On the walls of a former skate rink in Brisbane, an array of 20-year-old street art has survived fire, vandalism and demolition works to retain a place in history.
A $10 million redevelopment of the iconic arena in Red Hill will soon begin, and on Sunday the public can get its first glimpse inside since it burnt down on Boxing Day 2002.
“People have broken in over time, but for the public to come in and see the artwork and to relive the memories is special,” developer Peter Sourris said.
“For many years it was an open-air picture theatre, then a teen city nightclub, and then the Red Hill Skate Arena which many people have fond memories of.”
The original skate floor as well as the graffiti will be preserved during the development by Five Star Cinemas.
“Ninety per cent of the graffiti is the original graffiti and some has been here for more than 15 years,” Mr Sourris said.
“There’s a lot of work from Fintan McGee, who now travels the world painting buildings and grain silos.
“Along with Drapl, who has done a lot of work outside and inside the building, that’s part of the history of the building.
“We don’t want to cover them with plaster walls, we want to keep things as original as we can — you will even see the marks from when it burnt down.”
World-renowned street artists
Drapl, aka Travis Vinson, has been adding his handywork to the building both inside and out.
“Three years ago I painted the exterior there, and then the next year I painted the front side; now I’ve painted the front of the building to go with the cinema theme,” he said.
“Some of the work is 15 to 20 years old, and I look around and I see all the names I know from my graffiti history, and I’ve invited the people back to make it look more special — it is like a time capsule.”
The street artist said that when he was younger he would rollerblade at the arena every Friday and Saturday night.
“It was a big thing for me as well as roller-hockey, and speed skating was fun.”
The building had been left derelict for almost 20 years; recently the developers spent more than six months stabilising the roof, restoring key features of the old skate arena and revealed the century-old archways.
“My grandfather’s brother, Chris Sourris, owned it when it was the State Theatre in 1953 for one year, and he did a major renovation and put the terrazzo floor in,” Mr Sourris said.
“It’s been going on 70 years now and we’ve just restored it and you can see the brass inlay.
“When we first walked in, the floor was covered in pigeon poo, and then we started cleaning and we saw the different patterns on the floor and we wanted to keep it.”
Competition and car parking
The development has not been without controversy — local residents have voiced worries about how the redevelopment will affect traffic and parking in the area, while competitor Reading Cinemas fought against the plans.
“It’s looking positive at this stage and the lawyers have been talking … Reading have agreed to drop the proceedings, so we’re in the process of finalising that now with conditions that we have to adhere to,” Mr Sourris said.
“We’re putting that behind us and moving forward to build the cinemas.”
On Sunday, residents and history buffs will be able to walk on the original arena and see how things have changed before the major redevelopment work begins.
“It’s well supported by the community. I can’t wait to get it open,” Mr Sourris said.
“I love the history of the building and the local community to remember the skate arena — some still remember the State Theatre, where they sat on canvas chairs, and we’ve kept some of those chairs in the complex too.”
The developers hope to open the complex within the next few years.
Topics: street-art, arts-and-entertainment, urban-development-and-planning, human-interest, red-hill-4059, brisbane-4000
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