FOR the past five years, 43 Deakin Avenue has been home to an artist space like no other in Australia.
But the building had many past lives before local couple Julie and Kevin Chambers bought, transformed it and opened The Art Vault.
In the early days of Mildura it was occupied by Mills General Store and Boarding House, then photographer Frank Zaetta bought it and it became The Anthenian Cafe.
The Commonwealth Bank took ownership in 1951 and transformed the facade, before selling the building at auction in 1979.
It then became a number of other things including a pinball parlour, indigenous art gallery, real estate office, brothel and party-bus business.
Mrs Chambers said there was a full-sized boxing ring in the front room when they took over in 2006.
It then took them two years to transform the “derelict” space and extend it to house three galleries, printmaking facilities, 10 studios and accommodation for visiting artists.
Ahead of the five-year anniversary on November 1, Mrs Chambers told Sunraysia Daily the story behind how The Art Vault came to be.
“I studied visual arts in Sydney in the 60s, when you could only do a diploma in art, so I have degrees in other things, but I didn’t actually have a visual arts degree,” she said.
“A few years after I moved here a friend said, ‘would you go to uni with me at La Trobe and do a visual arts degree because I don’t want to be the only old person?’.
“While I was there, I found all these artists who had nowhere to exhibit, no studio spaces and couldn’t afford the printmaking equipment to use.
“I was walking past here one day and saw that this building was up for sale and thought it would make a great arts space.
“I didn’t really think too seriously about it, but just mentioned it to my husband and he said, ‘do you want to go and have a look?’.”
For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday's Sunraysia Daily 09/11/2013.