This ole house …

Castlemaine's Cr Max Lesser with his self imposed
Castlemaine's Cr Max Lesser with his self imposed "art house" restoration project in Harcourt.

For many restoring a dilapidated house solo on a budget of practically nothing could be a headache.
But for Castlemaine’s Cr Max Lesser it’s become a creative challenge and one he’s relishing since taking on the job to convert a degraded house at Harcourt’s Victoria Road entryway into something to catch the public eye.
“I hold a long-term lease but the house is on VicRoads’ land that was left over from the bypass,” the colourful Castlemaine councillor says.
The old weatherboard had previously been used for social housing but the interior had reached a state of disrepair and it could no longer be put to that purpose, leaving Cr Lesser constrained by uncertainty around the VicRoads arrangement and scratching his head as to what to do about it.
“It was a pushover job but I said I’m not going to do that – I’m going to use a bit of imagination and do something,” says Cr Lesser, who’s well known locally for his creative projects which range from photographic pursuits and facilitating double-decker bus decoration workshops for youth to designing sculptures.
About a year ago he decided to roll up his sleeves and unleash his inner artist – and the result is starting to turn heads.
“I’ve used a lot of recycled materials found on site,” Cr Lesser says.
“I’m re-purposing materials that you’d never think of.”
Old electrical cable trays, stormwater piping, reinvented tin and plenty of paint in shades that are not easy to ignore have all been put to use as part of the quirky project that’s part art, part restoration.
Cr Lesser says that, while the fate of the house is uncertain at this stage, the possibilities are many and he’s welcoming suggestions from groups with community-oriented ideas.
“It could be a community space. It could be a social housing project. It could be an art attraction,” he says.
“I’m just trying to show people that you can do something really interesting that costs nothing.”