Artist Annie Clarke
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale's former iconic restaurant, Colliers, has been transformed into the city's first Indigenous art and cultural centre, west of Brisbane.
Contemporary Indigenous artist Annie Clarke is behind the project.
Ms Clarke began painting at the age of eight, when she learnt traditional bark painting.
She came up with the idea of creating an art precinct when she started using the old Colliers house to work on her art.
"I originally started using it as just a studio - it had no power or electricity and it was cold," she said.
Ms Clarke says she soon realised the space could also be used by others.
She approached the Ipswich City Council with the idea of turning it into an Indigenous art and culture hub.
"I think a space like this gives a chance for the wider community to come and learn about Indigenous culture and it also gives the Indigenous a chance to showcase who they are and teach about their culture, their way," she said.
Colliers has been vacant for years, and was relocated in 2010 from Roderick Street in Ipswich Central to the Westfalen Community Gardens, a former coal mine in Collingwood Park.
Workers from Challenge Employment and Training have helped to restore the house to its former glory.
Richard Lindner, director of Challenge Employment and Training, says the benefits of restoring the house go beyond providing work experience for apprentice tradesmen.
"It brings in diversity," he said.
"It gives us a new approach and access to the community we're here to support."
Mr Lindner says offering art classes and other cultural workshops will be a new challenge for the organisation.
"For that reason alone, Annie has brought something to us that is very valuable in terms of engagement with a whole different cohort of individuals that we probably wouldn't have had access to in the past," he said.
Councillor Pisasale says he is excited to see his old restaurant become useful again.
"I wanted the restaurant to have not only a new lease of life, but something that's contributed to our city and Australia," he said.
"We don't put enough emphasis on our Indigenous culture and our Indigenous community and I'm just proud to be able to be part of it."
The centre officially opened last Saturday and Ms Clarke hopes it will eventually host a range of workshops.
"Hopefully it will be a space for all kinds of Indigenous facilitators, from jewellery makers to dance, story-telling, even weapon makers," she said.
But the project is still at least $45,000 short of completion.
Ms Clarke says it is a cause worth supporting.
"It gives the Indigenous community a sense of pride to see that people want to come and learn about their culture in a positive way," she said.
"I think it will make a huge difference - there's been such a positive feedback from the amount of people that have heard about this they can't wait to see it happen."