About the BuildingArt and Music Merge
A building in the Bray Street Complex, formerly an old night club, is now the home of Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium. Largely thanks to an extraordinary donation from Barbara Hogbin, it has been transformed inside with brightly coloured feature walls and energy saving lighting, the interior design work of Nicolle Foster of Natural Habitat.
Local Architect, Ann M Gee, drew up the plans and oversaw the refurbishment of Stage One of the facility with Builder Rick Wilson. The new Conservatorium now houses twelve acoustically designed rehearsal/teaching studios, a roomy foyer, kitchen facilities, music library, administration offices and bathroom facilities. The design cleverly makes use of all available space, connecting the facility with a secure carpark downstairs for staff use. Ann Gee has been a valuable member of the Board of the Conservatorium for over ten years. Her designs for this building stretch to Stage 2 (a 178 seat performance space) and an additional three contemporary music rehearsal studios downstairs, all of which will be connected by a lift.
The walls of Stage 1 are adorned with a set of limited edition prints by Australian artists, purchased from the Australian Youth Orchestra with a donation provided by Tom Hamilton Foster when he was General Manager of Park Beach HomeBase, the former location of the Conservatorium. But the latest artistic addition to the Conservatorium building and perhaps the most inspiring for the students, both young and young at heart, who come to learn music are the three panels of original artwork created by local lettering artist Colleen Little. Colleen is a founding member of Coffs Calligraphers and has held many honorary office bearer positions with the club for more than 20 years. Colleen’s work is acclaimed both nationally and internationally, her creations having appeared in many exhibitions and publications. The Conservatorium commissioned Colleen to create artwork that would greet people as they entered the building, to tell a musical story, but in a visual context. The brief was vague to say the least, but Colleen addressed the challenge with her usual professional and creative flair.
Colleen writes: “I wanted to visually recreate the sounds and texture of music. The brief for the panels, located on the front of the reception area, were to have two purposes. The first was a practical one, as the panels were to be in a busy traffic area it was important to keep the painted fronts of the counters from becoming scuffed. Three transparent perspex panels with a design printed to the back was decided upon. The panels, all separate, would be visually connected as a triptych. The second purpose was to be aesthetically pleasing, reflecting what the building was to be used for, and to tie in with the modern and eclectic collection of paintings that would be hung in the area. In planning and researching for a suitable design for the panels, I stumbled across a documentary about the Glass Percussion Project at Federation Square Melbourne – an installation, performance and interplay between sight, sound, light and movement. Whilst the Federation Square Project was more about the performance, I was inspired to visually recreate the sounds and textures of music for the panels for the Conservatorium. The design was created firstly by hand, in four layers, using a variety of writing instruments from balsa wood pens, to ruling pens and the brush to visually interpret the texture and sounds of music. I then scanned the artwork into the computer to overlay the layers in a digitally arranged design, and then added a final fifth layer of text. Each was a quotation about music by famous authors, the words woven into the design. The finished designs were then sent to a signmaker to make a digital print and apply them to the back of the perspex panels.” The results are outstanding and much admired. They are also inspirational, providing waiting students and visitors with visual interest and plenty of food for thought.
About our SupportersThe story of the Conservatorium history must include those who made it possible for us to move into our permanent home.
We are forever indebted to the generosity of local patron Barbara Hogbin. In 2009, Barbara gave us the bulk of the start-up capital necessary to purchase this property. Without Barbara’s help it would not have been possible to realise the dream of building our new Conservatorium here in Bray Street. This extraordinary gift enables us to perpetuate the gift of music for many generations to come.
The Enterprise Training Company (ETC) generously paid our mortgage costs for the first five years of our occupancy in this premises. Without this kind of community support to assist in our cashflow, we would not have been able to complete the teaching studios and building works that we enjoy every day.
We will always be idebted to Barbara Hogbin and ETC for their generosity and visionary support that enabled Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium to have a permanent home.