Thursday 15 October 2009

Hidden treasure in the Barras

99 Moncur Street

I went on a cycle ride down to the Barras area today to go in search of a gem of a hardware store which Sarah Lownes had mentioned in a presentation she had made during the festival of DIY culture.

Sitting down outside Bill's tool store I wondered what the building next to it, with 1887 enscribed at the top, had been used for and if it was still in use today as it looked quite run down.

I entered the shop on the ground floor, selling discount nursery furniture, and asked the woman playing with her son whether anyone lived upstairs. She seemed quite suspicious at first until I explained that I was looking for potential sites to put on an exhibition. She then asked her husband, who makes all the furniture to show me around the building. He took me up to the top floor which was astonishing in both it's view and open space.

He told me that the building used to be a clay pipe factory and that his wife had inherited it. The other two similar buildings had been converted into £70,000 flats and they had been approached by the council and estate agents on various occassions. However, he seemed to be quite open to the idea of turning the space into an place for exhibiting artwork. I was even more impressed by the floor below the attic space which still contained some of the gambling machines from it's brief time as snooker hall.

Returning to the ground floor, the shop keeper also seemed pleased that my interest in the space wasn't going to be financially orientated and we exchanged numbers to discuss matters further. Had I not have done the mapping shop the week prior to this where we were asked to go and have an unfamilar lunch in a new location and carry out an action, I'm not sure whether I would have considered going to talk to the shopkeeper. Having done so however, I have found how relatively little effort can lead to what could potentially be a very exciting project which many people could be involved with.

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