History, fashion, design and art with inspiring people are within the walls of “The Emporium”.
The Emporium is the site of the grand old building that stands at the gateway to the Hunter Street Mall in Newcastle, NSW Australia. From the 1890’s and into the 1900’s Scotts Ltd once filled its spaces and stood as one of Newcastle’s largest stores. The corner with iconic clock face was developed around 1920 before being purchased by David Jones in 1958 with the buildings being amalgamated.
In early 2011, David Jones closed its store to allow way for a new development andfuture. With the departure of David Jones the old lady slipped into decay during 2011 and early 2012. However, Renew Newcastle brought her back to life. The destination is now temporarily known as the Emporium.
The Emporium is now the gathering place showcasing locally made art, fashion, furniture & design. An initiative by Renew Newcastle to ensure this grand old lady standing proudly does not fall into decay in the front of Newcastle and its visitors whilst we await the future development.
2014, maybe the last year we see this iconic building as it is today as the revitalisation of this space starts to gain momentum. I wanted to capture this moment in time by taking the time to understand who and what fills this grand old lady in its final days.
Upon entrance amongst the large corridor I find some very interesting fashion boutiques, art galleries, cultural and visitor information displays.
The corridors are made for little children running around. Think of what fun your inner child could do with this array of paints, crayons and paper on offer.
As I was getting carried away capturing so many interesting displays, Sophie Smyth came around the corner with a big smile in between the camera and subject. “Woops” as she steps back.
Sophie is one the artists and business owners that fills the space called “Vintage Last Tuesday”. She designs and creates lighting displays and beautifully crafted leather bags and planters.
When I entered another boutique called “The Carved Greenman”, Graham Wilson sat reading a book. As he looked up and started speaking with about the works with passion and intelligence, I knew he was the artist behind this little space.
Graham carves stones and happily showed me his latest creation being the stone sculpture of “Odin” the one eyed Norse god before proceeding to inform me of the myth and legend behind his creation.
The Carved Greenman is full of Graham’s creations. There is art, prints, shirts, postcards, books and more. However, my attention was drawn to the artworks.
As I continue down the corridor, I meet Renee Verdon. Renee is the fashion designer and owner of “Vous“.
As I talk of my little project to capture this moment in history, Renee questions “So what interesting things have you seen so far?”
I reply “It is all so interesting.”
Renee proudly walks me over to her front display and reached for an old David Jones hat box. It was one of the items Vous picked up from the departure of David Jones. A Google search informs us that the signature on the box is the original signature of David Jones prior to it being changed in 1968.
If there was one item I saw behind the walls that captured this moment in time, it was this one. It is so fitting this item that it now resides on full display in the front window fronting the historic mall amongst the beautiful ‘high-fashion’ items of the Vous fashion label.
Moving on into Invintaged and I was greeted by the smile of a beautiful older lady, Sue. We spoke about everything from the vintage life and fashion of the early 1900’s to more modern times in Newcastle such as the Newcastle fig tree debacle.
Sue goes on to tell me that she is temporarily minding the Invintaged home for her daughter Wendy Ratcliffe. Wendy is the inspiration behind this vintage style boutique that displays and offers advice and designs on timeless fashion and accessories.
As I pass, the Madeleine Kelman gallery, there is life and interest in the “Salon 2014” exhibition featuring art works by leading contemporary artists most of whom are locally based.
Madeleine Kelman was not there however I entered and met a couple of great young people. They informed me that this was a “pop up” exhibition on for a limited time. I do not take photos of galleries without the head curator so I put my camera away in preference for a Newcastle revitalisation debate.
A sign leads me to One Man’s Trash (OMT). OMT is the concept of Lloyd Kellett, on my visit Lloyd’s nephew was watching over the boutique explaining that his Uncle gathers discarded metal, timber, furniture, machinery and hand craft’s each element into fashionable furnishings.
The result is a unique blend of industrial and urban style furnishings for the modern world. It is an imagination needed for the Newcastle revitalisation with the offering of something new and something old.
To be honest there was so much to see that I did not see it all. A key hole leads to somewhere but I did not open it. Behind the walls, there are so many more stories to be told before the development begins. I captured so many images of which only a handful are shown here.
It is not often you get to buy from the designer, creator and seller in this cut throat and big business world. In fact this is a dying part of our modern society and is what give “The Emporium” the point of difference for a new but old world retail experience.
The Shutter Journal will be capturing the places and faces of Newcastle in 2014 and sharing with the wider community. Be sure to comment, follow, and share and/or like.