Sacred Heart Restoration
Sacred Heart Restoration Now Completed
After more than four years of planning, and eight months of restorations works, the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) is delighted to announce that March 2018 saw the completion of the Sacred Heart building restoration.
This restoration marked the Convent’s biggest capital works program since the site’s original restorations commenced more than a decade ago, when the community campaigned to save the then-derelict site from commercial development.
Completed by an expert team dedicated to the preservation of the building – including Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) and FDC Construction and Fitout – and with input from Heritage Victoria, the Sacred Heart building now offers fit-for-use studios, showrooms, offices and retail spaces, contributing to the sustainability and growth of the Convent long-term.
Sacred Heart also includes two new venue hire spaces – one for community meeting and workshops access, and one with wet room facilities for arts activities and workshops. These spaces will be available for hire from April 2018. Please contact our venue hire team for more information.
New Arts, Cultural and Learning Organisations Onsite
To date, the following arts, cultural and learning practitioners and organisations have joined the Convent community as Sacred Heart tenants, with more to come:
- Ghost Wares ceramics studio will create their ever-evolving range of contemporary pieces onsite, making elegant but playful handmade products
- Ink & Spindle designs and hand-screen prints draw on their love for Australian native flora and fauna to create meterage fabric for a range of interior uses, including window furnishings, upholstery, soft furnishings and lighting
- Kids' Own Publishing is a not-for-profit arts organisation that empowers children, families and communities from diverse cultural, social and linguistic backgrounds to share their stories by creating their own books, including through artist-led processes.
- Leah Muddle Studio will see writer / illustrator / maker / curator Leah Muddle bring her studio / showroom to Sacred Heart, offering her second-hand clothing label ‘Millicent’, as well as garments accessories, objects and artworks made by Leah, or other makers she knows
- Madam Wheels is a digital media start-up dedicated to women wanting to engage more with the automobile industry
- Organisational Learning Australia (OLA) specialises in training Early Childhood Educators through the provision of the nationally recognised Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. OLA is linked with two other organisations in a shared Sacred Heart tenancy – Ignite Minds, a family day care organisation which provides quality early childhood education and care services, and Dragonfly Toys, which provides early learning toys and play experiences that are beautiful, enchanting, strong and safe, environmentally friendly and fairly traded. All three organisations were formerly based in the Convent building
- Polyglot Theatre is Australia’s leading creator of interactive and participatory theatre for children and families
- Q44 Theatre is an innovative theatre company aspiring to develop an artist-driven environment where brave players can learn and grow, whilst creating stimulating, thought-provoking and accessible theatre.
To find out more about leasing studio or office space tenancies at the Convent, please see the studios section of our website.
Acknowledging the Convent’s History
The ACF recognises the Wurundjeri People as the traditional custodians of the land and water on which we work and live.
The ACF also acknowledges the history and stories of the women and girls who worked and resided at the Convent during its time as a working monastic site. From 1863 until 1975, the Abbotsford Convent was run by the Order of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. During this time, Sacred Heart was primarily used as a dormitory, with many young women spending periods of their adolescence residing in the building, also known as ‘the home’, due to family circumstances, poverty, or acting outside the law or social norms of the time. The women and girls experienced regimented schedules and hard work, often in oppressive and harsh conditions.
Today the Abbotsford Convent is owned and operated by the ACF as a not-for-profit arts, cultural and learning precinct on behalf of the community. The ACF is not affiliated with Good Shepherd or any other religious organisation.
Some women have chosen to share stories of their time at Sacred Heart with the ACF, and we hope that through a process of sharing stories and creating new stories at the Convent, a culture of healing is created, while never forgetting the Convent’s past and the impact it had for some. There are equally many women who do not wish to, or are unable to, share or discuss their experiences, and the ACF also acknowledges these women.
The ACF is currently working on a heritage interpretation project which will acknowledge the history of the women and girls who resided in Sacred Heart.
If you would like to keep updated on this project, please sign up to our monthly e-news, The Humbug.
Sacred Heart Restoration Funding
This project was made possible with government, philanthropic and community support. In May 2015 the ACF received a challenge grant of $2.681 million from the Australian Government's National Stronger Regions Fund to restore the Sacred Heart building. This significant support matched an extremely generous donation of $2 million from the Dara Foundation, as well as funds raised by the ACF over the past decade.