A sprawling collaborative creative precinct is set to open its doors in Moorooduc in the coming months, designed by celebrated local artist Leisa Wharington. Inspired by the artistic landscape and grassroots essence of the Mornington Peninsula, The Studio & Co will bring together a diverse range of artists, designers and makers under one roof.
The expansive site incorporates a co-working office and boardroom, artist studios, insulated shipping container pods, a communal kitchen, gallery, library, workshop, event space, myriad curated retail spaces, an indoor-outdoor nursery, as well as an expansive cafe. Whilst some of the studios are already accounted for, several of the most striking spaces – including a spacious studio flowing off the cafe and boasting its own entry from Derril Road – are still available.
The project has been years in the making for Leisa, who understands the sense of isolation often experienced by artists. For 30 years, she worked in a small studio on her family property in Merricks North. There, she honed her craft in front of a giant furnace, spinning molten glass into organic sculptural pieces, vases, glasses, and ornate light fittings. In 2020 – when the opportunity arose – she set her sights on transforming the old antique store on Mornington-Tyabb Road.
The site itself is a rural property balancing rich local history with hyper-connectivity to Melbourne via the nearby Moorooduc Highway and Peninsula Link. The dwelling was originally built in the 1920s by the Jones family, who have lived in the area since the 1840s. It once sold groceries, stockfeed and equipment before eventually becoming an antiques store. With its matte black brickwork and striped copper awning, the frontage is full of character – a nostalgic beacon on an otherwise rural stretch of road. Whilst the original structures have stood for over a century, the interior and amenities have received a thoughtful renovation.
For the past three years, Leisa and her business partner Nadia Hughes have been hard at work transforming the old sheds into a multi-purpose hub. All of the materials used in the build have been salvaged and repurposed, from the donated double-glazed windows that feature throughout, to the hardwood doors made from the old flooring. With polished concrete, exposed pitched ceilings and an abundance of natural light, the space itself is an artistic and architectural masterpiece.
Peeping through one of the steel portholes, you might see a ceramicist perched over a wheel, a painter at their easel or a sculptor working on their latest installation. The pair are inspired by artists working in different mediums and hoping to attract a creative cohort of designers, makers, photographers, and digital creatives to the space.
The team are also on the hunt for an operator to take over the onsite café, ideally located at the heart of the complex. They envision the café catering for in-house exhibitions and functions, from gallery events and open studio nights to long table dinners hosted in collaboration with local producers. This will be the cultural centre of the hub, where visitors can come to connect with the creative community over good coffee and food.
Those interested in viewing the cafe or leasing a studio space – the size, scope and atmosphere really do warrant an in-person visit to understand the potential of the precinct – can enquire directly via the website or reach out via email to arrange a tour, with private viewings available via appointment.