Words by Jamie Burnett | Photos by Dwight O’Neil

It’s the type of shed every DIY wannabe wishes was theirs. And the good news is, it can be. Firstly it’s big… real big. And it’s choc-full of toys. Amongst the more standard tools like sanders, saws and drills, there’s plenty of speciality gear. Near the back there’s “Big Red” (the big red coloured laser cutter). “Little Red” (you guessed it) is the smaller laser-cutter. There’s a design room with 3-D printers and top-end software. While next door you’ll find an electronics room that looks like some kind of communications bunker. It’s wall to wall with screens, speakers and wires. And in between that, there’s the band room. It’s soundproofed and ready for rehearsal. Essentially Perth Artifactory is pretty cool and open to all.

The idea for the Osborne Park community workshop started more than a decade ago, and now a range of makers from across Perth share the space to create almost everything.

“This place started in 2009 in the lobby of a Hungry Jacks with the founders pooling together their tax returns… they rented a house in Mt Lawley in 2011 and then moved to this warehouse (current Osborne Park site) and shared the space. Now we’ve expanded to the point where this site is all us,” says deputy treasurer Fletcher Boyd.

“We’re Perth’s only public maker space. We’re a community workshop where people can come, work with a range of different tools, learn new technologies and work in a collaborative environment to build new ideas in ways that you can’t do anywhere else.”

While Perth Artifactory has grown in size over the last decade, its core is still about community, sharing ideas and helping out. There’s a range of different makers who come here, with a diverse range of skills. There’s woodworkers, metalworkers, robot creators, laser cutters, leather makers and musicians – and that’s just scratching the surface. Fletcher says that melting pot takes ideas and skills to interesting places.

“A lot of what happens here is inspired by the people that come here getting together. That leads to new ideas and creations. Our youngest member is 16, but we have people come through with their kids to start making at just six or seven. Other guys bring in their dads and I bring my grandfather occasionally and we work on woodworking projects.

“We’ve not only got a massive spectrum in ages, but in professions too. We have artists, engineers, students, mathematicians, sculptors and all sorts of different people that want to work on things.”

Fletcher then points to a whiteboard in the corner.

“You see that whiteboard? There’s a bunch of mathematical equations on the back. They were put up by a PHD student. Throughout the night other people here were jumping on the board and helping solve the problem. You don’t get that anywhere else.

“Personally, I’ve taken people through from learning how to use a hammer and going up to learning how to using industrial laser cutters… they’ve gone from no skills to being quite an accomplished makers over time and all through the help of people here.”

Like many members, Fletcher joined because he wanted to get on the tools and get around others who craved the same.

“I wanted to do more things with my hands and I was looking for that community aspect. I wanted to connect with other people who were into the same things. I started building a server rack but I ended up standing in front of a laser cutter all night, entranced by cutting random geometric shapes after a member had spent 30 minutes showing me how to use the machine. From there I went into learning how to use and maintain these machines… that really fascinates me and there’s nowhere else I could learn to do that.

“Apart from the community, the biggest thing I’ve got from this place is the exposure to a range of different technologies… and so many different ways of thinking and viewpoints. You have a problem presented here and five different members will come up with five different ways to solve it… that continued exposure to that melting point of ideas has been fantastic.”

In its tenth year, Perth Artifactory has received a welcome boost, announced as the latest ALBY Made Community Arts grant recipient. The community group will receive a $1000 grant to help provide new specialist equipment.

“The majority of funds are going toward upgrading our design room… it’s a space where people will have access to 3-D printers and specialist software.

“We run on a shoe-string budget and this type of grant is what we need to maintain, expand and make the space better for everyone. We connect with so many different groups and subcultures… getting different makers and people together who want to hang out.”

To find out more about Perth Artifactory, head to their website here.

Great Gable has had a pretty big 18 months. They’ve toured nationally and across the ditch, released their single Cool Mind Blue and are now the inaugural winners of the ALBY MADE community arts grant.

ALBY MADE is a community arts initiative that helps local creatives do what they do best, create! Each month a WA musician, artist, creative or community group will be awarded a one-thousand dollar grant, with funds to help make creative ideas a reality. ALBY sat down with Great Gable singer Alex Whiteman and lead guitarist Matt Preen to talk gigs, new tunes and how they ended up with cricketer Mitch Marsh’s guitar.

You guys have been real busy – how do you look back on the last year and a half?
AP: I guess we’re just taking it one-by-one… we’re just stoked that people are listening to our music and coming to the shows. It doesn’t feel like it’s changed too much. I think we’ve got so much more work to do, we’re still really young and we need to keep writing songs and gigging around.

You’ve spent a lot of time on the road, but are also writing for a new album – what’s more enjoyable, the writing and recording or touring?
MP: Both have their benefits. The writing side is a little more chilled out and you can take your time doing it. We usually go down south and hide ourselves away for a little bit and have a week where we smash out as much as we can. But when you’re touring it’s intense, you’re always on the move and shows are enjoyable but full one.

AW: They’re pretty opposite things. Recording you want to be in a dark, little room on your own and then with touring you want to be partying and having fun with everyone and playing to lots of people. But we’ve been working really hard for the album. We’re spending a lot of time doing it and we want to make sure we’re all proud of it.

MP: You only do your debut album once, and we want to make it special and as “us” as we can. We’ve got a bunch of songs that really have their own vibe. We’re keen to play some shows and see how the tunes go love. We played at Badlands for their birthday a while back and we played three new ones, they went down alright… we had some really good feedback.

You two met as a couple of kids in WA’s south-west playing cricket, who was better?
AP: Matt and I started playing cricket together when we were 12 or 13. He was the opening bowler and I opened the batting, so we were different players, we had different strengths.

It’s funny, speaking of cricket we’ve currently got Mitch Marsh’s (WA and Australia all-rounder) guitar which I used at a gig on the weekend. My brother plays for Western Australia and he lived with Mitch for ages. He lent us this guitar in September last year, and we haven’t given it back yet. So if you want your guitar back Mitch, give us a call! He’s got the best gear in town, he’s got better gear than us.

You’re the first ever winner of the ALBY MADE community arts grant,
what’s that mean to you?

AP: This is a big deal for us to get help from ALBY DRAUGHT. At the moment, there’s a lot to pay for and to know we’ve got local support from ALBY is the best part. The grant is a massive help, it definitely goes a long way.

A WA brewer. A wheatbelt farmer. And an overnight train trip.
That’s where it all began for ALBY.

Brewer Aaron Heary was on a study trip in China. As luck would have it, so was Tammin barley farmer Brad Jones. And after a yarn, a few beers and seven hours squashed on a packed train, the seeds of ALBY were planted.

“We were on a train in Beijing, packed in like sardines. We just started talking about this idea of using WA barley to brew a truly WA beer and it went from there,” says Aaron.

“We wanted to create a beer that supported local farmers and really celebrated WA. A beer that the state could be proud of that used locally grown barley, and was brewed right here.

“When that train finally pulled in, we were pretty up and about. And that’s really how ALBY was born.”
Brad Jones farms 11-thousand hectares on his property, growing a mixture of wheat, barley, canola and lupins.

Aaron says there’s nothing better for a brewer than using top quality, local produce.
“WA barley is some of the best in the world. Our state makes bloody good barley that’s perfect for making a refreshing and crisp lager beer. It’s something, as a state, we can all be proud of.”
Fast forward a few years and ALBY is growing to become a WA staple, while trips to Brad’s farm have become a regular pilgrimage for the brew team.

“We love to send our brewers to Brad’s farm and we’ve built a really strong relationship with local farmers right across the wheatbelt.

“Our brewers get out there during harvest time and love to get involved. They roll the sleeves up, help out, get in the harvester and really understand where beer comes from.”

And at the end of harvest, you can bet the farmers and brewers get together to enjoy couple of well-deserved, ice-cold “Red Dogs.”
Alby. Made by WA