Behind the Scenes at Four of Brisbane’s Vibrant Artist-Run Initiatives

If you want something done, you just have to do it yourself.

Meegan Waugh
Published on February 24, 2014

If you want something done, you just have to do it yourself.

When artists around the globe came to this conclusion, the concept of the Artist-Run Initiative, or ARI, was born. ARIs allow creative folk the freedom and agency to produce their art as they see fit, and you might not be aware that there are plenty of them buzzing away right here in Brisbane. We caught up with a few to find out more and ask them about the importance of ARI's in any thriving cultural community.


Inhouse was established in early 2012. It emerged as a response to the lack of opportunities for emerging artists and arts writers, as well as the lack of opportunities for critical discourse surrounding their practices.

Inhouse aims to foster an active critical dialogue surrounding arts practice. Each exhibition pairs an artist and writer to form a platform for discussion. In the lead up to and after an exhibition they host a series of meetings between the artist, arts writer and ourselves; these meetings act as an open forum to critique and analyse arts discourse.  They also treat the artist and arts writer as equals by evenly paying (when possible) and promoting both parties.

Jenna Baldock & Meagan Streader say:

"Artist Run Initiatives tend to form as a reaction to something that is lacking within the arts community, filling the gaps that the institutions, universities and galleries cannot or might not provide. This may be anything from a lack of opportunities to a lack of studio spaces. For us we formed in a response to the lack of critical discussion surrounding practice for emerging practitioners after graduating university.  We also noticed there was a growing number of arts writers in Brisbane but not a lot of opportunities for them."


Current Projects was initially a group of 8 QUT visual arts graduates that completed honours together in 2010. They formed in 2011 as way to maintain the dialogue they had developed during our studies, and also to create opportunities for themselves and other local emerging artists.

A key part of this amazing ARI is that it isn't actually just an "artist-run-initiative", as they in fact have a couple of curators as part of the group. As a result, they've been keen to share their different perspectives within the group and explore new ways for artists and curators to work together. They have also been keen to explore collaborative work, such as in their Pair Shaped series of exhibitions at Metro Arts last year, and develop new connections to help foster new work and alternative frameworks for artwork, such as in their Dispatch project.

Richard Stride says:

"I think the common idea is that ARIs fill a gap between university and establishing a career through commercial galleries or public art. I think this can be true, but it's only a part of the picture. I think they are more broadly act as incubators for ideas and provide artists with the space and freedom to experiment. At the same time, they provide innovative frameworks for artists to work within that may be outside the possibilities of financially orientated art opportunities."


Diagram was established in 2010 when Jared Worthington was approached by artist Martin Smith to curate the window space at Ryan Renshaw Gallery. Jared, Sean Barrett, Genevieve Reynolds, and Hannah Piper were the founding members. They've accomplished a lot since then, having had an exhibition of our own individual works at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, run a pop up art store called Art Snack, and created our latest work Let's Talk About Us.

Capable of irony but preferring sincerity. They’re curious about the world around us now, about others and about themselves. Their initiative now consists of Jared, Sean and Genevieve - a 3 headed monster. They work closely as a group to push and support each other and bring out the unique talents they all have. That idea of a collective mentally runs throughout all their endeavours.

Sean Barrett, Genevieve Reynolds, Jared Worthington say:

"ARI's can afford artists with freedom that isn't always available. Constraints that exist with institutions or commercial galleries can be relaxed a little so artists can experiment with different aspects of their work, such as the location, scale or duration. Being part of the scene has also allowed us to build valuable relationships with other similar groups, artists and galleries."


The folks at The Hold began planning at the beginning of 2013 and had their first show on the 1st of March, 2013. The gallery started as an opportunity for the organisers to remain active in the Brisbane art scene after our completion of our honours at QCA at the end of 2012.

Their ethos is hinged on critical artistic practice. They take what they do seriously and they look for artists who are equally serious about their artistic ambitions.

Luke Kidd says:

"Where do I start?  ARIs play a very important role in the visual arts. Many ARIs work with a high level of experimentation; Witchmeat is a great example of this. ARIs are also a great way for emerging artists to transition from their 'art school' phase to becoming full-time artists. ARIs can help you get exposure to the public, they provide you with experience in exhibiting your artwork and provide a way for you to get feedback on your work. All of these things are important if you wish to have a long-term career in the visual arts."

There are heaps of amazing ARI's around Brisbane, these are only a small sample of some of the top notch organisations around. Be sure to also check out the stuff going on at Witchmeat ARI and Level!

Published on February 24, 2014 by Meegan Waugh
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