Every artist knows someone who’s had a studio in the Nicholas Building. It’s like a rite of passage for Melbourne’s creative community. The building may be a little bit decrepit, but the rent is cheap and it’s charmingly idiosyncratic – having been a mixed-use building since it was built for Aspro king Alfred Nicholas in the 1920s.
The array of occupants is dizzying, as the directory in Cathedral Arcade (look up for the stained glass ceiling) will attest.
Most studios are private, so be prepared to encounter a lot of closed doors. Thursdays through Saturdays are the best days to visit; and a highlight of a weekday trip is a vertical ride with the city’s last remaining lift attendants Joan and Dimi, whose workplaces are like microcosms of their lives.
They’ll take you to Stephen McLaughlan’s experimental art gallery on level 8, and you’ll find artist-run initiative Blindside on level 7.
Pigment Gallery shows the works of emerging artists, and on level 1 you’ll find the stalwart poetry and ideas bookshop, Collected Works.
Once a year all nine floors participate in Open Studios – a two-day stickybeak event where you can wander through the entire building, meet the myriad artists, designers, jewellers, milliners and publishers, and buy direct from the makers.
37 Swanston St, Melbourne