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Mark Wolfe is building memories in Ararat

LABOUR OF LOVE: Mark Wolfe is fulfilling a dream of restoring an historic building, in Ararat’s Barkly Street.

LABOUR OF LOVE: Mark Wolfe is fulfilling a dream of restoring an historic building, in Ararat’s Barkly Street.

By Colin MacGillivray
What is the logical next step in the life of a musician and composer who has toured across Australia and internationally?
For Mark Wolfe, it was buying and restoring a heritage building in Ararat’s main street.
With the aid of Ararat painter Brendon Carlyle, Mr Wolfe has transformed the façade of the building at 109-111 Barkly Street.
When he and his wife bought the building – which currently houses Narcissus Flowers and Gifts – two years ago, it was in dire need of refurbishment. The paint was cracked, peeling and faded.
It stood in stark contrast to the ANZ Bank building next door, another heritage building in splendid condition.
Coincidentally, Mr Carlyle’s father painted the bank building more than a decade ago.
Mr Wolfe said Mr Carlyle had done ‘a fantastic job’ of painting the façade, while he had lent a hand as an ‘assistant’.
He said with painting completed, he was now preparing to install wrought iron window grills.
Mr Wolfe, who has spent time living in Portland and Colac, said it had been extremely rewarding to work on a building and in a community with so much history.
“It’s important to preserve these buildings to allow us to reflect on the grace and the beauty of what they were creating,” he said.
“It’s a nod to the elegance and the architectural artistry in that place and time.
“It blew me away to see the courage and the strength of the people who came and settled in the area and forged families and friendships.
“It’s also great what the council has done with historical plaques along the street, with the history of some of the places, so you can do a bit of your own research.”
Mr Wolfe’s life as a musician has led him around the globe, but he said he and his wife were drawn to the project of restoring a heritage building in a country town.
When they found the Barkly Street building was in their price range, they found it hard to resist.
“I used to do a lot of acoustic touring and I used to play out in the country a lot,” he said.
“Music takes you pretty much everywhere – I’ve been to Canada and Germany and toured Australia.
“It’s pretty amazing for my wife and I to connect with communities wherever we’ve gone, whether we’re in Chicoutimi up the top of Quebec, or Tennant Creek.
“But I wanted to try to find a building that you could really put your love and time into.
“I could see what it could and should be from a visual and aesthetic point of view.
“It has the elegance of yesteryear, but with a gentle nod towards a prosperous future.”
Sadly, just as restoration work is being finalised, Narcissus Flowers and Gifts proprietor Wilma McAdie is set to retire.
Mr Wolfe paid tribute to the florist, describing her as ‘part of the vibrant tapestry of characters, businesses and locals that make Barkly Street a special place’.
Swift Clothing is set to move into the building from its current premises at 118 Barkly Street once Ms McAdie retires.
Mr Wolfe said the restoration work had been a talking point for people in Ararat and had even prompted some property owners in Barkly Street to work on their buildings.
“There have been a few owners who, while I’ve been there working, have been giving their place a bit of a clean and re-doing bits and bobs,” he said.
“It seems to have inspired some other people to get cracking.
“It’s a challenge pulling everything together and making it work, but once you get the momentum going it’s good to get stuff done.
“It is a commercial enterprise in some regards, but it’s also love.”

HISTORY: Top, Barkly Street, Ararat, circa 1920.

HISTORY: Barkly Street, Ararat, circa 1920.

Painter Brendon Carlyle works to restore the facade at 109-111.

Painter Brendon Carlyle works to restore the facade at 109-111.

The entire December 12, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Dec 12 2018

Posted by on Dec 12 2018. Filed under Community, FEATURED, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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