Macs is on the move

2008-11-20 00:00

MACS, where weird and wacky art and craft — as well as more sober activities — takes place, is on the move. After nine years in Macs House in Alexandra Road, the Midlands Arts and Crafts Society is packing up its belongings and its unique atmosphere and heading to 23 Haldane Road.

It may feel like the end of an era, but Macs has moved before in its almost 25 years of existence. In the days prior to Alexandra Road, it was in the Yellow House in Prince Alfred Street, overlooking Camps Drift. And, as Jutta Faulds of Macs says, it isn’t about the buildings anyway, it’s about the people.

The society’s new home is next door to Faulds’s house and has space for wet and dry studios, an office and gallery space for exhibitions. There is also a garden and a veranda where people will be able to sit and chill out — and enjoy the atmosphere. At the moment, the builders are in, but once they have gone, no doubt Macs will put its unique decorative stamp on the place.

But why the move? It has been a difficult year for Macs — Faulds says that they were burnt out — almost literally as well as figuratively. In September, the problems they have had with vagrants moving onto the property at night came to a head when there was a fire in one of the outbuildings. When the Macs people arrived the next morning, the building had been destroyed and the roof had fallen in.

“Someone put the fire out — we don’t know who,” says Faulds. It was not the fire brigade, who knew nothing about it.

Copper pipes have also been pulled off the wall, leading to water running all night. The old Macs house belongs to the municipality, who has let Macs use it for a nominal rent, but would not pay for extra security or a fence. “It got to a stage where we were pouring money into the building, instead of using it constructively.”

The other problem this year has been the restaurant. The people who run it obviously want it to be a commercial venture, but on occasion, this has clashed with what Macs wants to do. It has not always been an easy relationship.

“We were getting close to closing Macs,” says Faulds. But now, with a new home, she hopes the society will find a new energy. The move will be hard work — Macs comes with a lot of “stuff”, but, as Faulds says, at least they will be going forward.

With three studios in the new house, Macs will be able to have more than one workshop or class running at the same time. There will be space for a small kiln — Faulds is keen to see ceramics being added to list of things Macs can do. There will be a shop, although it will probably concentrate on supplying craft materials, and Faulds hopes the second-hand books that Macs sells will also have a home. However, there will be no formal restaurant, although visitors may well get a cup of coffee — and a warm welcome.

One thing that Macs will be sad to leave behind is the mural on the prefab where Macs classes are held. During the course of this year, volunteers have devoted time and energy to the decoration of the walls. The decorations are loosely based on Indian Hindu and Mughal exemplars, with a nod or two to local Hadedas and British fountains. There will be a grand opening of the mural on November 26 at 5.30 pm. At the same time, there will be a grand closing of The Last Picture Show (the work of Jinny Heath and her students).

The final exhibition in the old Macs house will be the December display of members’ work. Then it will be all systems go for the move. As usual, Macs will be closed in January and the plan is that there will be a “feast” in the new house when Macs gets going again — in a new home and a new year.

For more information about Macs, phone 033 386 6500.

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