AFTER 12 years away, South West TAFE’s art department has returned to the fold.
The new Centre for Creative Arts was opened on Friday by Premier and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine in the former TAFE library off Kepler Street, much to the delight of art students and teachers.
The art department had spent six years at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus, preceded by a further six years at the former Fletcher Jones site.
Art department head Cathy Hoffman said its move 12 years ago from the TAFE campus in Warrnambool’s city centre was originally intended to be only for up to two years and the department was pleased to finally get a place it could call a permanent home.
Architecturally designed, the free-flowing space caters for up to 200 students doing sculpture, painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, screen printing, fashion design and sewing.
The facilities include a spray booth, kiln room, exposure room, dye room and an area for student exhibitions.
Staff and students were enthusiastic about being in the city centre close to other art spaces such as the Warrnambool Art Gallery, the F Project arts collective’s new centre in Timor Street and Scope Galleries in Kelp Street.
The relocation to the city centre is also expected to strengthen TAFE’s relationship with local secondary students who regularly visit the art department to take part in art forums and curricular activities.
South West TAFE chief executive officer Peter Heilbuth said the relocation had been a positive experience.
“Our art students and staff add life and creativity to our campus and to our broader community,” Mr Heilbuth said.
Dr Napthine said the importance of arts and culture in south-west Victoria had been recognised in the Regional Strategic Plan for the Great South Coast region.
“The need for arts and cultural experiences has been linked to younger people continuing to live in rural and regional areas,” he said.
“Young people are vital contributors to the productivity, vibrancy and identity of the south-west area.” The library has been relocated to be a building 50 metres away.