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I’ve always been intrigued by art project spaces—galleries that are defined by the contemporary, often highly experimental art they show, and by their commitment to the community in which they exist. As such, independent art space Enjoy Gallery was one of the first galleries I sought out when I arrived in Wellington a few months ago.
Located on Cuba St, Enjoy is the oldest independent art space in Wellington, having started in 2000. Enjoy Curator and Manager Emma Ng explains its evolution since then—“Enjoy was originally an artist run space run by contemporary artists in Wellington and it was really about them being able to show experimental art. Then slowly over the years the gallery has professionalised more. Now instead of being artist-run as such there’s a board of trustees.” However, the space is “still completely non-commercial and independent. The idea is that it’s a space where artists can make work that is more experimental and which shows a lot of emerging artists as well.” This is a pretty important role both for contemporary artists and the wider community, especially given that “Wellington doesn’t have a lot of artist-run spaces, compared to say Auckland where there seems to be an artist-run space popping up every year and sticking around for a year or two.”
Walking up the stairs and entering the space is in itself a pretty aesthetic experience—the tall windows allow natural light into the white space, where you instantly feel serene and contemplative. A wonderful space to experience a huge variety of art—not to mention Enjoy’s amazing library, which contains the kinds of “smaller books and publications that are difficult to find elsewhere”. Similarly, the space is really inclusive and community-focused, and you can sense that right away when you come into the space and have a chat with Emma or the Communications and Publications Manager, Louise. As Emma states, “Enjoy’s mission at the moment is an open engagement with the Enjoy community and the city and I think there is a certain responsibility to show a variety of work. I see us as being a community space not just for artists, but for designers and writers, and all those creative people we work with.”
In this vein, Enjoy provides a lot of opportunities for students, such as volunteering which involves babysitting the galleries on weekends and helping out at openings—both great ways to get to know the shows through being in the space for a longer period of time. There are also six-month long internships, with Enjoy having a “really varied internship program, so it depends on the intern and at the start we’ll have a chat to them about what their interests are and create something tailored to their what they want to learn—it could be design, archiving, writing and publishing.” Enjoy calls for applications at the beginning and middle of each year, although “the initial contact with us is just coming in and having a chat.”
Outside of that, Enjoy also commissions one piece of writing per exhibition for which there’s no formal application process—“it’s more a matter of people coming in and if they express an interest in a certain show, we’ll invite them. We’re always looking for new people to write and I think because it’s not an openly advertised opportunity, it’s something we struggle with, finding new people to write responses. So I always encourage people to come in and have a chat to us if they’re interested in volunteering, writing or anything like that.”
If you’re interested in checking out Enjoy, just go! Right now they’re featuring a group show called Something Felt, Something Shared, focusing on the intangible and transient, from psychic readings to online chat forums and ghosts. It’s a great place for anyone interested in art to get more involved and to experience work that is on the cutting edge of what’s being created today.