Brisbane Arcade in the 1980s – a community of artists

During the 1980s, the persona of Brisbane Arcade’s Gallery level was certainly unique. Cooking aromas would waft up from Kentucky Fried Chicken in the arcade’s basement, and float through the un-air-conditioned arcade to the gallery. Here, the flamboyant “Goldie” (John Goldsmith) sold bolts of vintage fabric from the 1920s to 1960s. Barbara Heath Jewellery was found in shop 18 (where Details is now). Alongside fancy dress stores and the well-known ballet emporium was a Tony Mitchell’s hair salon, and alongside this, Punch Bowl photo studio and Rendezvous tea room which had occupied the same tenancy since the arcade opened in 1924. A vintage clothing store provided the artistic base for a celebrated Brisbane artist.


“Luke Roberts is better known now as a contemporary artist but in the 80′s he had an extraordinary vintage clothing collection in his shop in the Brisbane Arcade,” says friend Barbara Heath.


“The shop opened as Heartbreak Hotel . It was affectionately known as Heartbreak and sometimes as Luke’s … it represented my installation and performance practice in those days. There was extended period where I’d give the shop a new name each day.”

Luke Roberts, Artist