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The Centre from the Past

Extract from The Pool Studio Newsletter November 2015 COMMISSIONS


I was recently commissioned to create five house portraits of the same humble abode. Why five?

Sited on the corner of Stephens Road and Laura Street in South Brisbane, is a worker's cottage with its original timber weatherboards and double hung windows. The home has become run down and the yard quite overgrown.


The Centre - Commission No. 1
The Centre - Commission No. 2

Last year I noticed a proposed three storey redevelopment sign on the property’s fence. I decided to capture views of the graffiti clad garage and the home’s front façade, framed by banana palms, lest they be demolished in the future. These artworks formed part of my July 2015 solo exhibition ‘Our Places: A Record’.


The Centre - Commission No. 3
The Centre - Commission No. 4

During the exhibition, quite out of the blue, I was contacted by nearby St Laurence’s Boys College. An amazing story emerged! In the 1980's this worker's cottage was purchased by the school’s foundation members/old boys and was established as a residence for homeless students to finish their schooling. It was called ‘The Centre’ and operated with full time carers for several years. The Centre was sold some years later, when running costs became too high, but the school’s foundation continues to educate disadvantaged students with the interest earned from the home’s sale, as well as via donations from old boys.


2015 is St Laurence’s centennial year, and the group of old boys who set up the foundation are to be official thanked at a function later this year with these paintings. Which is why I found myself painting five versions of ‘The Centre’ over the past few months. The school commissioned me. I was very honoured.

It’s amazing how an unassuming home can tell a much bigger story! The last story being - the proposed three storey development had so many objections that it wasn’t approved. I hope the home can keep some of its character well into the years ahead. I would love to see it become an art gallery and studio… Any interested parties apply within!

The Centre - Commission No. 5

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© 2020 Kelly Southee - Artist