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24

| BNE September/October 2016

ESCAPE

the GPT Group, developers

who own much of the city

centre, Bliss Cavanagh’s

Studio Bliss sells a variety of

calming objects such as furry

delights, weighted blankets

and cushions that help with

sleep problems. Cavanagh has

used her art-making to come

to terms with her own Tourette Syndrome and

has created an Elysium Sensory Art Room for

anybody who feels like a break from the outside

world. Commissions for art installations with

therapeutic benefits have followed.

Opposite, The Art Project is run by Andrew

Davies, who started with Renew in 2014 with a

gallery of his paintings and a studio. He runs art

classes for kids from infant and primary school

age and has just started to tutor high school

students. “It’s like an art club,” he says.

Later as I walk past the former Star Hotel near

the Art Gallery, I remember the words of the

Cold Chisel song about the riot that broke out

during the pub’s last night in 1979 just as local

band The Heroes were finishing their set. It was

a wild town in those days, according to artist

John Morris, who, as an art student, was there

that night. Drag queens, gays and transsexuals

mixed easily with students, surfies and merchant

seamen, he tells me, explaining surf culture has

always been big here.

I’m staying at the once notorious hotel where

Morris and other artists had upstairs studios in

the 1980s when it was known as The Lucky

Country. It re-opened in 2014 as The Lucky

Hotel after a major refurbishment by well-known

hospitality family, the McCloys.

Starting life as the Bank Hotel in 1861, it

now features old black and white photos lining

the corridors, a drum-kit chandelier and quotes

about luck on the walls of each guest room. A

free monthly courtyard cinema is popular with

locals, held in the restaurant.

“We wanted to create a different feel, mix the

old and new and pay tribute to its rich history,”

Blake McCloy, co-director with her sister, Hayley,

tells me.

The new mood extends to the night-life scene.

Craft beer is big but classic whiskeys and spirits

The Lucky Hotel

“We wanted to mix the

old and the new and pay

tribute to its rich history”

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