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previous use of site

by Eliza, 10 months ago

This is not a personal memory, but a bit of historical knowledge that may provide some kind of inspiration for imaginative uses for today's building.  In 1883, the previous building (known as New Market - there's a photo by TJ Nevin) was used among other things for the Juvenile Exhibition.  This was not confined to young people's work only, but had an emphasis on it, and a major purpose was to encourage young people in their work.  'Craftsmanship' back then was seen as a much wider thing than today's 'crafts'.  It referred to almost any job, such as being a good tram driver through to a good machinist, and of course also included those trades that required specific artisan skills, such as clock-making.  It was an era when going on an apprenticeship and doing well in it was a major path to upwards mobility - and a great loss it is to us, today, that this pride in one's work, of any kind, is lost.

The exhibition also included domestic skills, from sewing to gardening, as well as displays from local shops and industries.  It therefore had a wide appeal and one wonders if this idea - local pride in local work - could be used again to stimulate something good for Hobartians?  I'm not just thinking of exhibitions - although a re-creation of such, in a modern context, could be fascinating too - but also in on-going stuff like workshops, skills training, the encouragement of more engagement with the workings of Hobart's shops and industries, maybe even the granting of apprenticeships and fostering of new small businesses, a practical drawing-in of our shops and workshops into the life of our community (there are many small workshops in areas like Moonah - who ever thinks about them unless they have business with them?).  It would surely appeal to many things we acknowledge today - the alienation of the young, the loss of 'the local',  a general lack of pride in the abilities of the everyday person.  Could our City Hall be made to really live up to its name by becoming a hub for such things?

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