Artist Statement: The façade of the old Victoria Theatre is only glimpsed by looking above an ordinary street awning, and it has had been treated very unkindly over the years. The Victoria Theatre was originally built in 1876, altered in 1886 and then demolished in 1890. The architect James Henderson designed the major reconstruction of the Victoria Theatre which included a large stage house and small first class hotel. It was built in a neo Grecian style. In 1921 the theatre was renovated to convert to a dual stage and screen theatre, which was the time that the original hotel windows were blinded or bricked in. The theatre closed in 1966 with a showing of a Bette Davis film. It was the main theatre in Newcastle, and held performances by notables such as Gladys Moncrieff, Lily Langtry, June Bronhill, the Dóyley Carte Opera Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It is said that the interior still holds the dress circle, the proscenium arch. But the building is in a state of disrepair. The facade above the awning is still intact. The Victoria Theatre is one of the oldest theatre buildings in NSW. - Holly NcNamee.
Medium: Conte on arches paper
Dimensions: 56 x 35 cms
CHG Director's Statement: Maitland artist, Holly McNamee, as her contribution to the National Trusts Heritage Festival, depicts back streets and lanes of some of the historic byways of Maitland and Newcastle, areas maybe not so familiar to the casual passer-by, but viewed by the artist as an integral aspect of a city.
The architectural heritage of a city is often revealed from the rear end of the main thoroughfare. The back view showing the utilitarian side of the building, whether a commercial occupation, or residential, often hidden behind a gracious faade presenting the public street face. Stevenson Place in Newcastle East, with its complex and impressive terraces, topped by ornate parapets, looking outwards to the harbour, hides a multiplicity of chimneys, roof lines and outbuildings serviced by back lanes. The western end of Maitlands High Street also has such examples, but this time with shops lining the main street, residences above, and the rear service lane providing a view of the domestic aspect.
Maitland, typical of a city evolving along a working road, still retains examples of now historic homes which occupied the main road in and out of the commercial heart of the town. Old Maitland Road and High Street are now by-passed by the highway, which keeps the endless flow of traffic from old narrow streets, but perhaps also hiding these architectural gems from the wider public view, something this artist is hoping to rectify.
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