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Schaller Studio

Home > Melbourne > Accommodation | Art | Day Trips | Escape the City | Hotels
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published July 28th 2014
Sharing a Room with Mark Schaller
Source: Art Series Hotel website

Gold once defined Bendigo but these days every colour of the rainbow's spectrum is on display. And with the opening of the Schaller Studio, an Art Series hotel, psychedelic swirls, have entered into the mix.

The colours remind me of the Melbourne Observatory Wheel that travellers see, neon bright against the black sky, as the Bendigo train pulls into Southern Cross Station. Melbourne may be Victoria's central star but places such as Bendigo are like flares shooting out in all directions lighting up regional Victoria.

Most people have heard of the explosion of culturally relevant art exhibitions at the Bendigo Art Gallery that has revitalised cultural tourism in the town. Think of Grace Kelly: Style Icon and Genius and Ambition (paintings from the Royal Academy) as well as the forthcoming Undressed: 350 years of underwear in fashion (19 July – Oct 26).

These are giant paint brushes

But with the copious number of visitors charging up the Calder there was a need for a new hotel to match Bendigo's sophisticated new style.

The owners of the Art Series Hotel Group (The Blackman, The Cullen and The Olsen in Melbourne) chose Bendigo as the site for their first regional arts hotel.

The Schaller Studio was prefabricated in Melbourne and then all four levels with their 128 rooms sprang up onsite in seven days.
Rooms are slightly smaller than the Art Series other hotels but also cheaper and each features an original artwork while some of the other hotels only have prints by their namesakes.

Like the whirlwind construction Mark Schaller is an extraordinarily prolific and dynamic artist. In the 80s he was a key member of Roar studios, a vanguard art group known for their raw, primitive expressionist artwork.

His presence is everywhere in this hotel and with all his pent up energy you could be forgiven for thinking you were sharing a room with Schaller.

Walking into my studio-room it seemed I had stumbled across his unmade bed. On second glance I realized it was a throw rug, strewn (the housekeepers version of artfully draped) across my bed.

There are other telltale signs of latent creativity. The pillows bear the motto "If not NOW* then when?" as if warding off artistic procrastination.

Schaller Studios

Schaller's signature is scribbled in fluorescent yellow on the wall like a graffitist's tag. On the back of the door, solidified dripping yellow paint forms hooks for one's dressing gown and there is even a blank canvas and paints. A hotel that actually encourages their guests to make a mess.

Being a writer and not a painter my need is for elbowroom. Rooms are small -- European or New York loft styled small.

There is a tiny desk but I have to shift the bed to squeeze a chair in front of it. There is also a cleverly constructed two-person balcony but inclement weather prohibits working outside.

The limited space is almost redeemed by the modern streamlining and upmarket appliances such as a capsule coffee machine, large flat screen TVs and a docking station.

Walking out into the black painted corridor each step causes lights to spring into being showcasing Schaller's huge canvases all featuring his favourite colour— cardamom yellow. At the end of the tunnel huge floor to ceiling windows frame boughs of yellow autumn leaves as if nature were competing with a painting of its own.

Most guests who wish to work on laptops gravitate downstairs where the free Wi-Fi works best and there are large communal tables near open fireplaces as well as a café serving local wines, ciders and good coffee.

The feeling is lived-in: leather couches, shelves of novels and art books, sketch pads, should you feel so inspired, and games and puzzles.

There are constant flashes of yellow, on paint-dipped brushes on show in cans, the Lekker bikes for hire outside the window and even the bright yellow National Geographics chosen for their bright covers.

The hotel also seems to employ bright, sunny and young originals. They are forever helpful and forever at your service.

One kindly takes me on a guided tour--a service guests can request. A Fine Arts major, she also works behind the coffee machine but now wears her mortarboard hat as she bounces and breezes her way through an explanation of Schaller's artwork.

"He is a man of few words," she says. "I asked him about what type of birds he used in this painting and what they signified but he just said 'sometimes a bird is just a bird.'"

Like Jackson Pollock, Schaller is a man of action a whirling dervish throwing himself into his painting.

He completes the huge canvases like those in the foyer in just three days.

I touch some of these multi-layered almost sculptural-like paintings, a sensory experience I am told the artist actually encourages.

The young woman managed to prise a few stories from him. The huge eight metre high mural at the front shows his love of what he considers most important in life – family. The canvas of a bunny, wearing a Sid Nolan stylized Ned Kelly mask was executed after Schaller bought a rural property only to find it worthless; burrowed out by colluding rabbits.

The hotel brims over with Schaller's love of primal and fluorescent colours. Every room features one of his paintings. You can even take one home if you have $4,000. His inspirational quotes hang everywhere. Many are Nike-short such as "Stay Inspired." One constantly featured is "What Can I Create Today?" A question Schaller asks himself each morning.

So perhaps he really was in my room and I had felt his presence. I did manage to write this piece fluidly if not effortlessly. Perhaps there was the factor of my being surrounded by so many of his primal and vibrant images. A stay in his namesake hotel is certainly inspiring as Schaller leaves quite an impression.

More Information

For information on tours of the Art Series Hotel click here.

Getting there: For a relaxing trip take the train that leaves regularly from Melbourne's Southern Cross Station. Takes about two hours. Taxi from the station.

Hotel Information

Opening rate from $125 (valid until 30 August), standard room rate from $180 per night. The Schaller Stay & See package includes a sleepover at the hotel, ticket(s) to Bendigo Art Gallery exhibition plus a bottle of wine and late checkout of 12pm. Rates are from $175 for one person or $195 for two people, from the 2 August 2014 until the 9 November 2014. Those staying two nights will have access to two shows for instance the latest exhibitions; The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece and Undressed: 350 years of underwear in fashion.

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Why? For a unique stay in an artistic place
Phone: 1800 278 468
Where: Lucan and Bayne Street, The Schaller Studio
Cost: See article
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