Founded in 1999, the Blue Oyster Arts Trust is the governing body of the Blue Oyster Art Project Space, a not for profit art space located at 16 Dowling Street, Dunedin. All exhibitions and events are free to attend, the space offering an environment of criticality, support and learning.
Blue Oyster Art Project Space exists to enable emerging and experimental artists, writers, curators and arts practitioners to work free from commercial restraints in an innovative and experimental environment. For 15 years the Trust has aimed to broaden an interest and understanding of contemporary art by providing a diverse and energetic forum for critical dialogue around a yearly programme of exhibitions, projects, events and publications.
We are supported by Creative New Zealand and the Dunedin City Council, along with a range of other sponsors, funders, patrons and supporters in and around the Dunedin community.
A Brief History
Playfully named after the Blue Oyster gay biker bar featured in the 1984 comedy film Police Academy, the Blue Oyster Gallery began its life in 1999 opposite Arc Café (now Taste Nature) on High Street in Dunedin. The Blue Oyster has a strong history of supporting experimental and innovative art practices, and is one of the earliest artist run spaces to be established in New Zealand, influenced by spaces such as Auckland’s pioneering Teststrip (1992-1997), and Dunedin’s Honeymoon suite (1997-1998).
Founding members Emily Barr, Steve Carr, Wallace Chapman, Douglas Kelaher and Kate Plaisted opened the Blue Oyster as an artist-run space with the exhibition titled Collections Taonga Trash curated by Emma Kitson. Replete with personal collections of humpties, soft porn record covers, catholic merchandise and return of the Jedi cards as well as UK artist Richard Crow serving warm milk and liquorice in the basement of the Blue Oyster, this founding exhibition opened the space as an exciting and potent site for testing out ideas.
Soon after the founding of the space, the Blue Oyster Arts Trust was formed, allowing the gallery to have a life beyond the involvement of its originators. Since this time, the Blue Oyster has seen several spaces in and around the central city, incredible support from numerous volunteers and talented trustees, administrators and directors that have allowed the space to grow and continue to be Dunedin’s longest running and experimental art project spaces.
Now located on 16 Dowling Street, with a large street front window and a variety of exhibition spaces, the Blue Oyster Art Project Space continues to assist, promote and support emerging artists, writers, curators and practitioners to work free from commercial restraints.
Read more: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue: 10 Years at the Blue Oyster (2009)
 Description of Collections Taonga Trash taken from Bob Mould, “Dunedin Roundup” in Log Illustrated 8 (1999): “The Totem and Taboo Issue.”
About Current Staff
Chloe Geoghegan graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in graphic design in 2008. Since returning to complete a Post-graduate Diploma in Art Curatorship in 2011, she has been involved in curating and managing numerous exhibitions and art projects including COCA Window Projects and at the Ilam Campus Gallery. She has worked for the Govett-Brewster Contemporary Art Museum (2009), SCAPE Public Art (2008 & 2011) and as a curatorial intern at City Gallery Wellington (2011). She has written for The Physics Room, un Magazine, Hue & Cry, Oculus: Postgraduate Journal for Visual Arts Research and Hashtag500Words, and completed her research dissertation on Christchurch artist-run space High Street Project (1992-2011).
Between 2012-2014 she co-founded and ran Dog Park Art Project Space, a Christchurch-based artist-run space. Her current interests lie in speculative, experimental art practices and curatorial production.
Georgina Watson completed a Bachelor of Media Arts at Waikato Institute of Technology majoring in painting and sculpture, and gained a first class Honours in Art History from Auckland University in 2011. She has developed a variety of art projects in Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton including Futures Trading Co., Home Economics, New Friends Gallery and currently co-produces Matters Journal. She has worked for Performance Arcade, Hopkinson Cundy and as an intern at Enjoy Public Art Gallery.
She is interested in the generation of discourse around contemporary art and encouraging connectivity between practitioners both nationally and internationally.
Current: Chloe Geoghegan
2010-2013: Jamie Hanton
2009-2010: Jaenine Parkinson
2007-2008: Michelle Armistead
2007: Benjamin Smith
2006-2007: Charlotte Dick
2004-2006: Ali Bramwell
2003: Robyn Dold
2002: Melanie Oliver
2001: Pete Wheeler
2001: Byrony Allen
2000: Steve Carr
1999: Kate Plaisted
Current: Georgina Watson
2013-2014: Briar Holt
2013: Melanie Wait
2011-2012: Ellen Pullar
2009-2011: Deidre O'Malley
2008: Karyn Taylor
2005-2006: Charlotte Dick
About Current Trustees
Kirsty Glengarry is currently Visitor Experience Manager at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and has been a trustee since 2013. Previous arts management roles include: Manager Education and Public Programmes, City Gallery Wellington; Access Programmes Coordinator, Auckland Art Gallery; Arts and Funding Advisor, Auckland City Council; Manager Visitor Experience Waikato Museum of Art and History.
Jeremy Smith is currently Manager, Olveston Historic Home, Dunedin and has been a Trustee since 2013. He holds an MA in Curatorship and Modern Art, University of Sydney. Jeremy has held arts management roles at the Fortune Theatre, the Biennale of Sydney and at the Sherman Visual Arts Residency, Sydney.
Cr. Aaron Hawkins has been a Trustee since 2011 and is currently a first-term City Councillor in Dunedin. Before entering local government he was the producer and presenter of the Radio One 91FM Breakfast Show for seven years, where he also served in creative and promotional roles.
Dr. Natalie Smith is an Independent Scholar and Tutor at the University of Otago. She holds a PhD (Art History and Theory) and has been a Trustee since 2011. Her research interests include the art fashion nexus and the social history of New Zealand visual culture.
Dr. Jonathan W. Marshall is a cultural historian and arts critic. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Melbourne and is currently Lecturer in Theatre & Performance Studies, University of Otago and has been a Trustee since 2009.
Saskia Leek is a Dunedin based artist and has been a Trustee since 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury and a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Saskia exhibits both nationally and internationally and is represented by Ivan Anthony, Darren Knight and Jonathan Smart.
Mark Bolland is a Dunedin based photographer, writer and lecturer and has been a Trustee since 2014. He graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2004 and from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design (now UCA) in 2002. He is currently Lecturer, Photography at the Dunedin School of Art.
Emma Chalmers is Dunedin based artist. She makes paintings, drawings, collages and kinetic installations. Between February–April 2013 she was Artist in Residence at Wellington Gallery, 30 Upstairs.
Founding Board Members
Steve Carr, Douglas Rex Kelaher,
Kate Plaisted, Wallace Chapman,
Past Board Members 1999-2013
Teresa Andrew, Ali Bramwell,
Cathy Helps, Nathan Thompson,
Terrence Wood, Bekah Carran,
Claire McClintock, Iain Cheesman,
Lynda Cullen, Nick Dewar,
Don Hunter, Ana Terry,
Jay Hutchinson, Anna Muirhead,
Emma Bugden, Amy Jo Jory,
Emily Pauling, Rachel Gillies,
Michael Morley, Jenna Todd,
Sue Marshall, Julia Davies,
D’Arcy Dalzell, Peter Gorman,
Maddie Grady, Joanne Campbell,
Max Oettli, Erika Wolf,
Anya Sinclair, Aroha Novak,
Vanessa Gordon, Tess McLauchlan,
Clare Fleming, Graham Fletcher