This privately funded facility is a unique cultural asset that contributes to and enhances the life of Gippsland. Through the passion of Carolyn Crossley the Cowwarr Art Space delivers a program comprising; residencies, exhibitions, and performance and has done so for over 20 years. 

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Original Vision

The Cowwarr Art Space came into being when Carolyn Crossley purchased the old Cowwarr Butter Factory in November 1992. It took six months of extensive renovations before it opened as the Cowwarr Art Space in June 1993.

Carolyn was led by her personal vision to create a highly flexible, inclusive Art Space. It is through nurturing and expanding relationships that her vision was achieved and in 1994 Cowwarr Arts Network (CAN Inc.) the not-for-profit Incorporated Association was formed and continues to operated out of the space to this day.  Carolyn's original concept is working, the exhibition program continues throughout the year and the residency program has hosted a 110 artists from 16 countries to date. 

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Architecture - Federation Arts & Craft

The former Cowwarr Butter Factory is architecturally significant as a rare example of an industrial building employing Federation Arts & Crafts design traditions. Built in 1918 it combines innovative end of WW1 building construction methods with the honest, substantial and moralistic features of the William Morris initiated Arts and Craft movement. This went on to form the basis of the architectural work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Burley Griffin. The distinctive styling and concrete construction define the building as an extraordinary example of a factory, particularly in the context of the many other cheese butter factories built in Victoria in the early 20th century. 

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Early History

The discovery of Gold at Walhalla in 1862 created great expansion in the district.  The Fresh Food and Storage Company opened a creamery around 1880 and in 1897 The Cowwarr Cheese and Butter Factory Co. Ltd. was formed. Construction of the current building commenced in 1918 to take advantage of the new railway line and station. 


First Peoples

Of course the history goes far beyond that of white settlement. The Gunaikurnai people are the Traditional Owners of Gippsland. There are approximately 3,000 Gunaikurnai people, and their territory includes the coastal and inland areas to the southern slopes of the Victorian Alps. Gunaikurnai people have occupied the land for over 30,000 years.  Gunaikurnai Nation is made up of five major clans. Cowwarr Art Space is on the land of the Brayakaulung people.  Learn More

The art space is a listed building REGISTER NO. 1282, U625243F 06/02/1997

The art space is a listed building REGISTER NO. 1282, U625243F 06/02/1997