Nestled between Arthur Daley’s Clearance house and Subway on Swanston Street lies the Cathedral Arcade in The Nicholas Building. Venture up one flight of stairs, and you’ll arrive at the iconic vintage clothing store RetroStar. Venture up one flight further, and you’ll enter a quiet haven hidden above the bustling streets of Melbourne.
To enter The Nicholas Building is to enter another era – you definitely aren’t in Kansas anymore. Walking down the long, deteriorating hallways is nostalgic. A feeling of complete serenity encompasses the building, making it impossible to not feel at ease in the space. It is practically silent, the only sounds coming from the studios within, where you might pass the faint vibration of music or the soft hum of chatter. Completed in 1926, the building once hosted medical practitioners, garment traders, architects and artists. Nowadays it is solely artists that inhabit the studios, filling this old Melbournian giant with new wave arts and culture.
What can be found in The Nicholas Building depends on the day you visit, for what is there one day cannot be found another…a bit like Hogwarts. While there is almost too much to list, here is a tiny glimpse of the wonder that can you can find in The Nicholas Building:
1. A lift operator
Hop into the lift on the right and you will be privy to a ride with possibly the only elevator attendant in the city. Needless to say, the novelty of this ride is through the roof.
2. A defunct mail chute
3. Harold and Maude
Studio 204, Level 2
A combination of vintage treasures and morbid, yet fascinating art from Andrew Delaney and Robyn Bunting. The aptly named Harold and Maude features a collection of vintage bits and bots from Bunting and Victorian Gothic styled art using old hospital bandages and other found materials and objects by Delaney. The line between what is grotesque and beautiful is blurred through Delaney’s wonderful craftsmanship.
Room 5, 2nd Floor
L’ucello, French for Bird, is a gorgeous vintage haberdashery shop on the 2nd floor. They have a stunning collection of vintage floral fabrics and vintage ephemera, as well as lots of little nick nacks, such as soap, handkerchiefs, buttons and books. The owner is incredibly helpful and the shop is a blessing for the eyes.
5. Blindside Gallery
Room 14, Level 7
An arts space located on the 7th level, Blindside is dedicated to promoting contemporary art from emerging and established artists. Currently, the space is showing an interactive piece, ‘untitled’. We are invited to smell the small vials and write our experiences on the typewriters, the aim being to “examine the gap between language and our sense of smell”. Blindside also has an incredible view of Flinders Street and Federation Square.
To fully experience the greatness of The Nicholas Building however, one must go and explore the nooks and crannys themselves. If you would like to find out more about what lies within the building, click here.
The Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street,
(Entry through Cathedral Arcade)