Guest Article - The art of the possible

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This guest article has been written by Tony Monaghan at The Brand Agency following a site visit to Huzzard Studios, a photographic studio and artistic hub in the CBD.  

I recently visited Huzzard Studios in Pier Street, which is co-owned by Chris Huzzard, Chris Benson and David Broadway. You might have seen Chris, he’s the one taking the photos at Committee for Perth events. To say they’ve turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse is a major understatement. Prior to taking over the lease at Pier Street, the building, previously owned by the Uniting Church, had been empty for years and home to a number of squatters. If it were advertised in the real estate section it would politely be described as a renovators’ delight. 

Over the past year, Chris, Chris and David have transformed 4,000m2 and four floors of derelict building into a photographer’s paradise - 15 studios with all of the lighting equipment you need. All you have to do is BYO camera and model, and even those can be provided. 

With a lot of vision, and some serious hard-work Chris and the team have created an artistic hub, a place where 600 photographers, ranging from students, amateurs and professionals come to practice or perfect their art. And it’s not just a place for photographers, Huzzard Studios is creating opportunities for models, make-up artists, stylists and scores of assistants. 

In November 2008, the Committee for Perth released, ‘A Cultural Compact for Western Australia, the 10-year Challenge’ read here. The report envisaged a vibrant State where arts and cultural appreciation and activity are part of everyday life for all Western Australians. It called on the State Government to develop an incubator environment for the arts, culture and creativity in metropolitan Perth. It also encouraged urban planning that develops or redevelops lively clusters of arts venues based around affordable residential and studio accommodation for artists where other businesses will grow and develop in the vicinity. 

Another aim of the Cultural Compact was to engage young artists who choose to stay, return to, or visit – because they are encouraged and supported within an incubator environment. Looking back over his more than 40 years as a photographer, Chris tells me about two photographers who came through his studio who are now treading the world stage. Nicole Bentley, who is a regular contributor to the Australian magazines GQ, Marie Claire and Vogue, and Gavin O’Neill, who began shooting professionally in Perth in 1996 and works for Vogue, Marie Claire, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and GQ. Chris sees the Studio as great lure to not only bring photographers back to Perth but also attract photographers from Asia. 

Huzzard Studios has repurposed a building to become a creative hub in the languishing eastern end of the CBD. Chris’ vision aligns perfectly with the ambitious $2.1 million Historic Heart of Perth project, led by Adrian Fini OAM. Historic Heart aims to revitalise the city, between Barrack Street in the west and the Perth Mint in the east, through an innovative funding model with both business owners and government contributions. Placemaking and place activation are as much about permanent infrastructure as they are about pop-ups, both can be facilitators for more artistic incubators that can assist to turn around the fortunes of what has been a long-neglected area.      

For more information about Huzzard Studios go to http://chrishuzzardstudios.com 


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