Artist Run Initiatives | Starting something good

Recently I attended the final show of an artist run space that, I know, myself and many others will miss. The closing of FUZZYVIBES was inevitable, the shows were predominantly brilliant (maybe I’m biased?) and good things like ARI’s can’t last for ever, nor should they really.

They arrive, often as each year’s graduates get overcome with the closed nature of much of the art sector and want to explore their work in a free and open environment, away from financial pressures. Closing just as often as the rents get raised, time becomes scarce, or the space has just run its course.

For their final exhibition FUZZYVIBES presented Homerun, with parting gestures by those who lived in the space Ophelia King, Liam Pram, Emil Dryburgh, Nina Lloyd, and Sam Beca. The doors to the interior space, and the home at the centre of the gallery, were open to view – blocked off by black velvet ropes – playing up to the voyeur in all of us. In the first room there were also three heart-warming letters written on refill, and tacked to the wall, by Liam Pram, Emil Dryburgh, and Ophelia King. With live music and an almost overwhelming number of people, the final show felt more like a sentimental goodbye to a good friend.

But this isn’t a review, now I’m getting unnecessarily sentimental and it’s time I get to the point. The closing of FUZZY brings to the fore for me the importance of spaces like these in our communities. Aotearoa New Zealand has a strong history of ARI’s, Teststrip and Gambia Castle perhaps the most well-known examples, but all around the country places like RM, State of Princes, Pilot, Blue Oyster, and Dog Park in recent years have provided opportunity for creatives to engage.

At Artists Alliance we’re constantly encouraging our artists to become part of, start up, or just visit spaces like these. Our resources The Oily Rag and Initiate were both created to highlight the many ways that you can approach the topic of creating and exhibiting outside of the traditional gallery system. And these galleries don’t just give opportunity to show your work when you’re not represented, but they allow you to address a completely different audience, make new connections with people you’ve never worked with, and enrich the arts sector as a whole. Without the necessary exchange of money I also find there is an inclusive feeling. The Pamphleteers, another FUZZY show, for me is a clear demonstration of this.

Maybe this too closely represents a call to arms, I guess my intention is simply to encourage artists who have ever thought of taking part in an artist run initiative to start looking around them at what’s possible. You’d hopefully learn a lot, meet like minds, and facilitate something positive.


By Rosa Gubay.