The Dominion Post
Bold spaces deserve to be seen
In Po¯ neke’s inner city, there are two contemporary art spaces that exist out of our eyeline.
Play_station and MEANWHILE are volunteer-led artist-run galleries and studio spaces that have expanded and diversified our art scene for several years now. While they might take more time to find (up staircases or by lift, and open limited hours), they’re worth the effort to experience fresh approaches to art.
These initiatives support artists predominantly at the beginning of their career, assisting them in developing their art practice and providing them with the opportunity to show their work to an invested audience.
They provide support to the wider community by offering studio spaces at a cheap rate for artists to develop their own practices, and they invite other groups and organisations to host events, openings and performances.
Despite their vital role, the financial viability of these spaces is precarious. Neither MEANWHILE nor Play_station have paid staff. Instead, they have a continually evolving team of voluntary facilitators responsible for management and co-ordination. This allows the heavy workload to be shared, and encourages these organisations to respond to different perspectives and interests.
Ultimately, it discourages a monolithic model. They have remained operational through crowdfunding and modest funding from the Wellington City Council, all going towards space upkeep, organisational costs, and offering exhibiting artists a fee for their work.
Unfortunately, neither space receives a lot of foot traffic. Bigger galleries draw wider audiences because of their ground-level location and ability to afford larger promotional campaigns. These spaces rely on the commitment of their community and quality of work
to encourage audience engagement. They do have the opportunity to grow with the expansion of their viewership.
With the support of the wider public, these organisations could develop exponentially and provide more to our city’s creative output.
There are many ways to support them: follow their social media accounts, share their events online, tell your friends about them, volunteer to help
out, donate, and go along to see the exciting work they put on.
So, I’d best let you know what you’re missing. MEANWHILE is hosting (From) Side to Side, a painting and drawing exhibition by local artists Ruby Moana Wilkinson and Christian Dimick. The collaborative nature of their process in making the works involved both artists interpreting their shared memories from their individual perspectives.
Play_station is currently showing Learner Lover, a sculptural exhibition responding to breakups, Aotearoa’s waterways and regeneration, by Whanganui-based artist Ming Ranginui (Te Ati Haunuia-Pa¯ pa¯ rangi).
This solo show includes a variety of different materials, including a water feature and an intricately sewn blue silk saddle, which together make connections between emotion, body and land.
By supporting these spaces, you’re investing in the future of visual art in Aotearoa. Many artists who’ve shown in these venues have gone on to major national and international exhibitions and festivals in just a few years. Yet, greater than any individual’s achievement, they serve the creative community and provide a more radical perspective on contemporary art.
They welcome you to come up and be challenged and surprised.
MEANWHILE is located at Level 2, 99 Willis St, open Thursday to Saturday 11am-2pm. Play_station is just up the road at 1/233 Willis St, open Thursdays and Fridays 11am2pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm.