Roughly half an hour north-west of Maroochydore, and my home in Sunshine Cove, lies a village called Cooroy. If you’ve been here before, you’ve probably noticed a rather striking brown brick building with some incredible works of structural and sculptural artwork placed around its exterior. These creations allude not to the building’s original purpose, but the new life that has been breathed into its previously desolate halls and hollows. Now a hallmark of the Sunshine Coast’s artistic community, Cooroy’s Butter Factory has evolved quite a bit over time.
The Butter Factory is a local heritage building that was purchased by Noosa Council in the early 1990’s for community use. Since then, the Butter Factory has bcome home to many and varied groups and organisations, including: TAFE, Permaculture Noosa, the Butter Factory Arts Inc arts organisation and a small satellite operation from Queensland Museum. The Butter Factory Arts Centre is part of the Cooroy Community Precinct, Mill Place. The historic Butter Factory presents a changing program of arts and heritage exhibitions and events, and hosts various art workshops for all ages.
The Butter Factory and associated organisations have fulfilled a variety of functions in the community such as a creative hub, an art gallery, a workshop space, an education provider, a performing arts venue and an office space for council’s creative and heritage staff. A well-equipped ceramics studio was built on the Butter Factory site and has been utilised by local artists for furthering arts practice, facilitating workshops for adults and local school children. The last five years has seen the Butter Factory Arts Centre operating as a council-run gallery space for local and visiting artists. The Butter Factory currently runs a full exhibition program, associated public programs and workshops and is a venue for performing arts and professional development workshops for teachers in the region.
As a big believer in the importance of supporting the arts, in all its forms, I’ve made a number of trips to the Buttery Factory since I first heard about it and what it has to offer. I recently returned to the Gallery with my young children, and we were not at all alone in doing so. There were a number of families that arrived as we did, which would normally be a great thing on its own, but I witnessed something quite amazing because of it. The Energizer Bunnies, as I call my children, ran circles around me, bouncing with excitement to explore the Gallery. I overheard the grumbles of some rather unexcited looking munchkins seemingly being dragged inside for some ‘culture’ by their parents. I shrugged it off, thinking not much of it, and directed my chaotically excited offspring inside.
We began our explorations in a vast room full of awe-inspiring pieces filling the walls, easels, tables and pedestals around the room; expressing more than words ever could. We, being the creative and art loving types, were immediately enraptured by it all, but my attention was snapped away for a moment when I heard a little voice whisper ‘Oh wow, that’s really, really cool!’ Looking over my shoulder I caught a glimpse of the grumblers breaking out of their funk and beginning to take this whole ‘art thing’ a little more seriously and the appreciation for all that art truly was starting to take root in their precious little minds.
It was a great day full of inspiration, excitement and reflection on all manner of matters and of course little voices begging to return soon, or to be signed up for this workshop or that one. Thanks to the Butter Factory it seems the school holidays have been pretty well sewn up, with plenty to offer both the kids and myself, being just a big kid at heart really. Or a man-child, as the misses has affectionately termed me. At least I like to think of it as affection… At any rate there is plenty to explore here at the gallery in the new year and days to come, see their site for more information as it becomes available.