Shop 26: The former Riot Art and Craft store is home to one of the four vinyl window wraps. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Empty shops showcase an evolution

June 11, 2021 BY

FOUR of the Bridge Mall’s empty shop spaces have a purpose again.

Under the leadership of Ballarat Evolve, the windows of shops 10, 26, 69, and the former Treloar’s café have been vinyl-wrapped to highlight and showcase the wares of local makers, inspired by MoreSpace, an initiative of Moreland City Council.

Project officer Kelsie White said the mission of Ballarat Evolve is to “pair artists with under-utilised or under-used spaces around the town.”

A list of 15 creatives has been curated, and their work is currently being displayed.

“We wanted to do something for people who weren’t necessarily looking for a studio space, but still wanted to get their work out there,” she said.

“This project means people don’t have to be in an art space all the time, which can be difficult. They just give us their products, and we’ll display them in the windows for at least a month, but we’re hoping we can keep the windows activated for as long as the spaces are available for rent.”

The vinyl window stickers include the shop’s real estate information, in partnership with agents and landlords.

“They can stay up forever until the spaces are leased. We would love to do a rotation of different artists because there are so many in Ballarat that we could feature,” Ms White said.

A local currently featured at shop 26 alongside three other makers is ceramicist Ruby Pilven, who is displaying mugs and earrings.

“I’ve chosen to show a selection of small pieces to give viewers a taste of what I make,” she said.

“This is another positive step that the City and Evolve Ballarat are taking to make people in our town and the wider community aware that there’s so much talent here.

Ruby Pilven’s small selection of earrings and mugs.

“It’s another interesting visual for people walking past, and another fantastic free PR platform for us as creatives. No one wants to look at empty shops. Why not use the space if it’s otherwise not being used?”

Ballarat Evolve is a branch of the City of Ballarat Arts and Culture team. At least four creatives will run workshops down in the Bridge Mall through the winter school holidays as part of the project.

The initiatives are funded under the Bridge Mall revitalisation works.