ArtWorks Granite Belt

ArtWorks Granite Belt

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Stanthorpe Railway Station was opened March 3rd 1881 when the Southern line was extended from Warwick. Stanthorpe Station was to become an important part of the connection with NSW and in 1887 the line was extended to Wallangarra on the border. The Station pictured (circa 1913) was on the Tyrel St side of the line, today the Station buildings are situated on the Davadi St side.


artworks on davadi

In 2011, a random remark about a space suitable for holding some activities for Disability Action Week, led to the discovery of a real gem and the genesis of Art Works on Davadi.

At that time, Therese Crisp was tossing ideas around with a GBSS team member and artist, Linda DesGrand, and as she passed the disused warehouse on the corner of Davadi and Locke Street, an idea took root. James Massey, the owner was right on board, and very soon a mini exhibition was on the drawing board. It was to be a six-week project which featured an exhibition space and coffee and tea facilities. 

The success of that first exhibition, was attributed to the keenness, excitement and hard work of Linda, with its involvement of clients, carers and Granite Belt Support Services, ignited a passion in the community. Their enthusiasm caused the vision to grow, and before long, negotiations with James allowed them to begin activities on a gradual basis at first, but the concept was so affirming and joyful for all those involved it just kept on growing.

Art Works on Davadi is a sub-committee of Granite Belt Support Services Inc., a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1990 by parents, teachers and interested community members to administer funding for the Early Intervention and School based Therapy Program for children with disabilities. At that time GBSS supported over 140 families and individuals aged from birth to 65yrs in the Stanthorpe area. 

GBSS staff were intrinsic to its management in the early stages, however, the volunteer base would increase as Art Works on Davadi became a valued place in the community. Donations of chairs from the RSL, the kitchen from Glen Aplin school and the building of a ramp for disabled access all followed adding to the community’s stake in this hub of arts, poetry, music and friendship so close to the centre of Stanthorpe.

Over time, Art Works would host workshops for all sectors of the community, provide a welcoming drop-in centre, a space for movies and a library. Functions were held there which were important to the community – festivals, parties, launches. Skills were handed on there, people were given the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment. Major funding was secured from the Fairfax foundation, unbeknownst to organisers, Tim Fairfax came along as a customer and was impressed – the three-year funding allowed the part time employment of a manager.

When the inevitable day came that the building was sold for redevelopment, a great sense of loss pervaded the whole Stanthorpe community. 

Local papers reported the event with sadness: 

Former Artworks committee chairman James Massey said it was with great sadness that the board had taken the decision to close the doors on a place that has become the creative and community heart of Stanthorpe.

“The amazing thing about Artworks is that it began as a one-month lease when the building became the venue of an art exhibition which celebrated International Day of People with a Disability in 2011,” Mr Massey said.
“That exhibition, ‘State of Mind’, was a resounding success. (Southern Free Times)18/9/14

There were demonstrations and pleas but finally, the search began for a similar venue to re-ignite the original enthusiasm. It would be many months before that goal could be realised.

The baton was officially handed to a committed group led by Graham Knight and Laurie Astill and so began the story of Artworks Granite Belt now housed in Stanthorpe’s historic Railway precinct. They took as their symbol, a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The birth of ArtWorks Granite Belt

A number of like-minded individuals took a decision to form a new organisation “Granite Belt Community Space” which would espouse the values, principles and ideologies of Artworks on Davadi.  In November 2014 an application was made to Queensland Rail for the lease of the Railway Station building and part of Queensland Rail land at Stanthorpe. 

The Granite Belt Community Space was incorporated under government regulations in October 2014. It espouses the values, philosophies and ideologies of its predecessor Artworks on Davadi. 

In February 2015, in a public announcement, Granite Belt Support Services (GBSS) advised that they no longer auspiced the “ArtWorks Project” (Artworks on Davadi) but wished to acknowledge the new Committee of ArtWorks and to support its initiative in continuing this important community service. Granite Belt Community Space has now become incorporated as ArtWorks Granite Belt Inc.

Together with our near neighbours in the Railway precinct Whistlestop & Heritage Gardens; our hub is complemented by our weekend Station Café, and the Boccè and Pickleball courts set amongst the landscaped garden area. 

Many local associations have contributed to the establishment of the garden spaces and our gardeners just keep on growing! Every month we greet the Southern Downs Steam Railway excursions and send them on their way refreshed from our Station Refreshment Stalls. It is a lovely welcoming place perched on one of the highest vantage spots in the town with an easy stroll to the shops and amenities in Stanthorpe.