by Sophie Moeller
IN AN exciting and bold new collaboration between Lismore's landlords and art world, empty shop spaces in the CBD are to be transformed into creative studios for the city's flood-affected artists.
It is an initiative modeled on the successful rejuvenation of the City of Newcastle and has already seen two spaces "activated" in Lismore's centre.
Property agent Andrew Gordon, from R Gordon and Sons, has led the charge in facilitating the workshops and exhibition spaces in collaboration with Creative Lismore.
The idea is the shop spaces are provided for free and, in return, the artists create new life, increase foot traffic to the area and make the spaces attractive to commercial tenants.
Last week the Overtopping Studio was the first to launch as a dance arena, band set-up and exhibition space on Carrington St.
The Overtopping Studio is a collaboration between Realartworks, Lismore Central Shopping Centre, Lismore City Council and Creative Lismore.
Realartworks lost their music and art studios during the flood and look forward to using the space to rehearse a performance "exploring the notion of the deluge", which will take place during the upcoming ARTSTATE convention in Lismore at the end of November.
Projection artist Marion Conrow was based in South Lismore and was among many others who lost nearly everything and say they are still "in trauma, exhausted and in recovery mode" as a result of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
"Being part of the Overtopping and having a dedicated space within the CBD with a supportive team has given me hope and an avenue to express grief into a creative artwork," Ms Conrow said.
"It's a fantastic space and has amazing exposure to the local community and nationally. I'm incredibly excited and am looking forward to making an awesome new work."
Arts Northern Rivers indigenous art development officer Mark Cora said the initiative was a great opportunity for Bundjalung artists in the region.
"We have been looking to access a space to develop our artists for a long time," he said.
"We have been doing well at the markets in Sydney and it is a natural step to create a space here in Lismore to be creative."
Mr Gordon said he was pleased to be part of the collaboration because "often these spaces are completely empty and this is an opportunity to utilise them to help grow the business community as well".
Realartworks' Sunita Bala said: "Creativity is one of our strengths in Lismore so it is great to be able to establish a creative hub though our common vision, show our resilience in a unified way and solve a problem.
"Adversity has brought out the best in our community and we will be better off for it."
Watch out for a trail map of artists taking over the CBD during ARTSTATE.