Climbing the Convent building’s stairwell to a sun-drenched landing and wandering the long corridors of each wing, it is easy to appreciate how every studio window offers its own unique outlook – an ever-changing perspective on the world below.
Crafted over a century ago, many of the building’s 260 windows currently retain their original woodwork and glass. The timber frames have been worn by time and the elements – if these fames rot or break, there is risk of the windowpanes shattering. Once this original heritage material is lost, it is lost forever.
The windows of any building are its most vulnerable part – but they’re also where the light gets in. They’re the liminal spaces where people can peer into, and out of, other worlds. With 95 studios across three floors, the worlds that lie behind each of the Convent Building’s 260 windows are extraordinary.
We had a chat with creatives and practitioners from the Convent building community about their heritage studios and what inspires them most about the view.
Jennifer Whitten, Artist
“My beautiful studio in the Convent Building is, without question, the epicentre of my practice. I feel so incredibly lucky watching the liquidambar in the courtyard change over the course of every year; and the light that streams through my lofty windows never fails to inspire, even on the dreariest of days.”
Susan Earl, Filmmaker, Writer and Artist; Co-Founder Hamish and Buster
“I love that my studio is west facing, so late on summer evenings I can have the window fully open and enjoy the evening warmth and sunsets. It’s especially lovely when it’s stormy – I have a lot of sky and clouds to enjoy. I often think about who has come before me. Who else has looked out this window, seen those trees (but) smaller, seen a different city skyline – but still looking out the same window.”
Anahata Giri, One Heart Yoga and Meditation
“Yoga students at One Heart do their practice facing the beautiful, large windows of the studio. Many comment on the windows: the inspiring view of the treetops and sky; all the light the windows let in and the dreamy, ripple effect of the original glass. In the evenings we see the bats fly over. I love seeing the different seasons framed in the windows. The windows of the Convent are very special.”
Rick Matear, Artist
“Set in this unique environment, the Abbotsford Convent arts community supports each other in a profession vital to a healthy society.”
Karen McVean, Remedial Massage Therapist
“As a wellbeing practitioner working with people who seek restoration and support in their healing, my practice studio is a unique heritage space with a vibe of grace. In between client sessions, I quietly pause, gaze out and take in the safe comfort of Convent buildings and trees.”
Chris Womersley, Writer
“My wife Roslyn and I have shared a studio at the Convent for nearly ten years and both absolutely love working here. The whole atmosphere at the Convent is very conducive to work. It’s peaceful, warm, light, and our particular room has a wonderful view out over the courtyard – ideal for dreaming up new projects.”
Virginia Blue, Blue Fruit Interior Architecture & Design
“Every morning when I walk into the courtyard on the way to my beloved interior design studio, up on the top floor of the main Convent building, I glance up to see the composition which greets me. The way the building arches around the big old tree with smiling windows; the dappled, gentle colours of the walls; and the ordered, quiet rhythm of the colonnades, creates a place of so much beauty that I have to pinch myself that I get to work in such an enchanted setting. And from my studio, whenever I glance out at the courtyard below (which is often, as it’s a magical view), I am re-inspired all over again to create designs which are worthy of being in such an extraordinary place.”
Helga Salwe, Photographer
“I love working at the Convent for all the obvious reasons; the beautiful architecture, the gorgeous garden and also the sense of belonging to a community of creative and caring people. But mostly I love the fact that this wonderful place has been protected from developers for the enjoyment of everyone. I find this truly inspiring!”
Rema O’Neill, Architect and Thermal Performance Assessor
“My studio at the Convent is a place of peace and hard work. It has a massive double hung window which frames the magnificent liquidambar tree – stunning in autumn colours now but always beautiful. The Convent is another world, always changing and dynamic, but there are still many old friends to wave at and have a chat with.”
Meaningful moments and unique connections like these are created in the Convent building every single day – and we must ensure its inspiring heritage fabric is preserved, protected and safeguarded for the future.