After years of producing inanimate and functional objects, Local Wrought Iron sculptor and designer Robby Lang recognised that a much more lasting and significantly positive impact could be made on the greater community by producing something of intrinsic value to everyone and therefore he founded the Community Hub The Fremantle Fibonacci Centre.
REVUE's Co-Publisher Jan Bathel, asked him about the pleasures and struggles of running a place aiming to connect the strenght of artists and makers and why "there is no substitute for total commitment".
What was the initial idea or purpose for the setup of your project and what are your plans for the future?
The Fibonacci centre acts as a community resource, along the lines of a commercial community centre, providing many of the services often provided by local councils. It is designed to enrich our society, by creating a space, which allows for an individual’s, or group’s creativity and self expression, to grow, in a safe environment. As such the centre provides an alternative to the current entertainment scene and all of its ugly offshoots. We have helped build an incubator for emerging and established talent.
With it’s unique blend of emerging artists and working designers, we have helped form a link for artists to enter the commercial world, if they chose. It also allows them to engage with the possibility of commercial application of their talent. Within the building, the central atrium is used for community purpose, to house exhibitions, film, performance, and music, weddings, funerals, anything.
In addition a community café operates within the building “The Blinco St Cafe”. In the future, We will start The Freo shop, which will sell prints of works produced by artists within the building, as well as copies of any significant music, literature or art ever produced in Freo.
We will also have a Roofspace garden: The roof space of the Fibonacci centre covers 800sqm and collects approximately 600,000 litres of water every year, as well as around 800kw of solar energy at the peak of the day. It is our intention to harness these resources for a large aquaponics garden, and mini solar power station. We are currently seeking sponsors for this project also. We will effectively be growing vegies, fish, and energy, that will in turn be used in the downstairs café. In the café, all the furniture will be locally produced and available for sale, as will be the plates and cutlery, the staff will wearing clothing produced inhouse, and hence for sale.
The Fibonacci centre is a grand vision, but luckily we are already 9 years into the project and have already achieved many of the initial goals.
What activities do you use to stimulate relationships and collaborations? Do they reach the same target group as they aimed at to reach when setting up the space?
The Fib is very much a community space, and well used by artists and the general community. The Cafe and central space are gravitational and exchange spaces, where resident artists and groups often meet. The council and community arts officers have been supportive, as has Artsource. We also have 2 dynamic Arts Groups within the Building, Artists Anonymous And the Arts Cartel.
We are regular participators in the Fremantle Festival and Promote local musicians and emerging musicians and artists. as well as fledgling business groups and artisans. We do reach the target group we originally set out to include and more.
How do you get people to go into a mode of exchange: sharing their experiences, curiosity, knowhow and failures.
We are a private organisation running out of a very old Paint factory. The operation is not the most streamline, since it doesn’t have a great income stream, and doesn’t receive any ignificant income support. We tend to bumble our way through, and try not to repeat past shortcomings, we don’t have too many outright failures. We rely heavily on Facebook and word of mouth, Groups often have their own entourage.
What’s your greatest lesson learned from your Creative Space project?
The greatest lessons are,
That it is possible to enrich the community, when you take direct action.
There is no substitute for total commitment.
The law is is administered in an abitrary fashion.
Councils are swayed by vocal minorities
Never trust a council initiative.
Let others reach their potential.
Don’t try and control the process of growth too much,
Creativity is best when amorphous and nebulus.
Let creativity flourish.
What other spaces inspire you and what have you learned from them?
The Breeding Ground in Amsterdam, The Anti Squat movement, Market spaces everywhere, Growers Market, Fern, CityFarm, Christiana, Barcelona, Berlin. London housing co-operatives, Findhorn, The Earthship movement, Free Festival movement in UK. Keep it cheap and make it possible.
How do you bridge the gap between people from different disciplines?
Allow them a place to meet and get them drunk. Encouraging usage of the common space for projects.
How does the design of the physical space contribute to the principles and goals of The Fib?
The Fib is like a mini Solar System, The Art studios are Planets that revolve around the Sun, aka, The Central Space. The cafe nourishes the inhabitants and community, and the huge deck allows the interaction with the outside community, People often call the Fib, The Ship, because it resembles a big old ocean liner.
How do they integrate “digital” into their daily routines & services?
Badly to be honest, We are so caught up in building the physical, we tend to ignore the virtual. The cafe does it much better than the Fib as a whole.
What is the one-sentence core message of the place, which reflects its values?
To be the fertile soil that nurtures the seed!
Robby, thank you so much for showing us such an incredible creative art space. I'm impressed by the wealth of opportunities which are offered at The Fremantle Fibonacci Centre.
Check out The Fremantle Fibonacci Centre – or come by their beautiful space in Fremantle:
19 Blinco Street
Fremantle, WA, 6160