The Sydney Story Factory in Redfern has been such a success that it’s resulted in an expansion into the Western Suburbs of Sydney. This weekend sees the creative writing and storytelling centre open its doors in Parramatta, as a new base for workshops for marginalised young people aged 7 to 17.
The not-for-profit initiative is the brainchild of Australian of the Year recipient Dr Cath Keenan – and the intent for the new centre is to grow the story factory’s ability to unlock the creative potential of a more diverse age range.
The Martian Embassy was a collaboration between art collective The Glue Society and architects LAVA – and became a place which could transport young kids to a different place and time, leaving their every day lives behind, in a deliberately nontraditional space, a world away from a classic classroom.
In its stunning 18th Century sandstone cottage, the new Parramatta centre similarly provided the two creative companies the perfect opportunity to collaborate to create a transformative space in a rapidly developing area.
But this time the goal was to develop something which would provide inspiration to a broader age range, and stimulate young people of even more diverse backgrounds.
As a result, The DreamLab is a place which instantly prompts stories and ideas – promoting creative interpretation over conventional thought.
The interiors are structurally organic, combining undulating walls and cavernous warehouse spaces with extraordinary features remaining from the heritage building.
The space is adorned with futuristic lighting elements and interactive sculpture, presented as strange artefacts from the future. More than just art objects for the space, these also serve as interactive story prompts for writing workshops.
Technical blueprints of dreamlike creations line the walls – encouraging the children to let their imaginations run wild.
Says The Glue Society’s Henry Curchod: “We wanted to create something bold and timeless for this version of the Story Factory. We arrived at ‘DreamLab’ because it seemed to fuse imagination with experimentation. The concept allowed us to be inclusive, stimulating and gave rise to plenty of unconventional thinking.”
Says Chris Bosse from LAVA: “The strategy to connect old and new parts of the building was to introduce continuous fluid shapes in floor wall and ceiling that meander through the space and guide the visitor into another world.”
The centre opens at a time when literacy and writing-skills in Western Sydney suburbs are substantially below the national average, according to NAPLAN.
Research demonstrates that quality arts programs can enhance creativity and significantly improve literacy rates and academic engagement.
The Story Factory ‘Dream Lab’ is located at 94 George Street, Parramatta
Client: Story Factory Parramatta
Concept & Creative Direction: The Glue Society