Recently I had a job working inside the old Argus print works building on Elizabeth st., Melbourne. This is a much loved building by Melbournians but has sadly been left derelict for over 50 years or so. The printing presses stopped when the Argus went belly up due to a miscalculated foray into colour printing and comics. This was apparently instigated by the son of the founding owner because of the success of similar companies in America.
The Argus was built in 1925 although construction might have started around 1921. It has been owned by several educational institutions over the years as part of their property portfolios and was once riddled with asbestos and lead paint. This was all removed at a cost of AU$16m which duly sent one of the owners belly up. I do believe that this has lead to a court case. This is partly why the building has lain derelict for so long.
I was involved in the making of a film which was using the interiors as a location for some fight scenes. The film was ‘I, Frankenstein’ and is due out next year or so. While I was on set I was able to photograph the entire site. It is not as picturesque as one might imagine and even the graffiti is pretty lame but it still does retain some beauty.
At the corner of LaTrobe and Elizabeth streets.
The spooky art installation on the 2nd floor.
The spooky sculpture in a different light.
A gutted floor.
- Some of the old existing thoughtful wall scrawlings which have now mostly been covered over with colourful daubs.
Another thoughtful piece of literature.
In order to remove the old printing presses huge holes had to be made in the floors. The building has six floors.
- A waterlogged floor.
One of the better examples of Argus art.
A stylistic piece of retro graffiti.
An old Skool piece by LUSH, allegedly one of the better artists using the Argus building for his canvas.
The flooded corner above the balcony.
- The fifth floor in the morning light.
The city wakes from the tower.
The city wakes from the roof.
The lovely tower on the roof that was supposed to have a dome on top.
A neglected bong on the fourth floor.
The only remaining plastered area of the building. This is the roof of the corner underneath the balcony. The plaster is dated 1925. Unfortunately water is damaging the plaster which periodically falls down.
The top of one of the magnificent columns.
A close up of previous column.
A hidden piece of stonework. Check out the masonic symbolism.
Sign on door felt over from asbestos removalists. Apparently pigeons aren’t allowed to poo in the toilet.
The last I heard was that there were no plans for development of the site but I guess if you just wait for land prices to rise a bit more then selling and building would be a worthwhile venture. I just hate to think what corporate wank offices will go in and what über expensive penthouses will be built on the roof for the 1%ers who can afford them. On another note some people say that the site is haunted. I don’t think that it is after spending 4 weeks in there. It is filled with dampness and nasty cough causing spores of what not. It is a shame that there is not some truly great graffiti in the building, a few Banksys would been nice or perhaps something by Everfresh.