RS&S Woollen Mill
Hubcaps to Creative Hubs. Part One: RS&S Woollen Mill
Made by Nicholas Searle and Cristina Garduño Freeman
for Deakin University, University of Melbourne and Creative Geelong, Short Film, 2018
University of Melbourne
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Please contact: Dr Cristina Garduno Freeman firstname.lastname@example.org
Hidden in a once-overlooked industrial corner by the Barwon River at the southern end of bustling Pakington Street, the Returned Soldiers and Serviceman’s Mills (RS&S) has become the hub for a remarkable network of artists and creative makers.
And if you listen closely, you might hear sounds of the past reverberating in the building’s walls.
The mills were opened in 1921 to produce cloth and provide employment opportunities for servicemen returning from World War 1 as part of a community enterprise. They became an integral part of Geelong’s reputation for manufacturing quality tweed and worsted fabric, producing a range of significant products including the Monarch Rug with its distinctive rising sun motif.
The RS&S mills’ decorative façade and thrusting red brick chimney have maintained a strong visual presence, even as milling production declined. But the opening of the popular Boom Gallery sparked lift-off of a different kind. Today, the mills are home to a diverse network of professionals including artists, photographers, yoga and dance studios and videographers. The collaboration of these enterprises has made the mill a site for networks of cross-pollination and the spinning of remarkable new stories.
Oh, and that reverberating hum you might hear? It’s a working fabric mill, producing high-grade commercial textiles used around Australia that you may well have seen or touched. In another link between the RS&S Mill and the arts, the Geelong Textile Company’s fabric is used in the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.
The RS&S Mill is an extraordinary example of the opportunities that the buildings left behind by industrial decline can provide to communities creative enough to invest them with meaning, making places through new types of making.
Film Music Credits:
Cold Funk Funkorama - Kevin MacLeod
Eagle Rock - Wes Hutchinson
Turn On - RW Smith
Pioneers - Audionautix
Satin Sugar - Huma-Huma
7th Floor Tango - Silent Partner
Little Drunk Quiet Floats - Puddle of Infinity
Where I am From - Topher Mohr and Alex Elena
Ghost Dance - Kevin MacLeod
Jupiter One - Riot
Strolling Through - Silent Partner
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