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. Since its establishment 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.

Click here to read our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan 

A Brief History

Playfully named after the Blue Oyster gay biker bar featured in the 1984 comedy film Police Academy, Blue Oyster began its life in 1999 opposite Arc Café then above it (now Taste Nature) on High Street in Dunedin. 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 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 Blue Oyster, this founding exhibition opened the space as an exciting and potent site for testing out ideas.[1]

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, 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, 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)

[1] Description of Collections Taonga Trash taken from Bob Mould, “Dunedin Roundup” in Log Illustrated 8 (1999): “The Totem and Taboo Issue.” 

Blue Oyster High Street
High Street 1999-2005 

Blue Oyster Moray Place
Moray Place 2005-2013 

Blue Oyster Dowling Street
Dowling Street 2013-Present

About Current Staff

Director: Hope Wilson (2020–)

Hope came to Blue Oyster from Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore where she was Gallery Events Coordinator. Prior to this she was Assistant Curator at The Physics Room in Ōtautahi Christchurch where she supported and developed curatorial projects with a collaborative ethos, including the (Un)conditional exhibition series which initiated a number of exhibitions partnering with galleries across Te Waipounamu, the South Island. Hope has a background in Art History and English (BA Hons) from the University of Otago and a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Massey University.

Public Programme Coordinator: Mya Morrison-Middleton (2020–)

Mya (Ngāi Tahu) joins Blue Oyster from Basement Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau. Prior to this she was Visual Arts intern at Auckland Arts Festival and a Library Assistant at Auckland Libraries. Recent notable projects include a Matariki residency at Basement Theatre creating a soon to be released audio work and online & live performance work Maumahara Girlie. Mya moved to Tāmaki Makaurau after graduating Otago University with a BA in Art History and Gender Studies.

Design, Publishing & Communications Manager: Erin Broughton (2020–)

Erin joins us from Strategy Creative in Ōtautahi. Prior to this Erin lived and worked in Ōtepoti where she was one of five facilitators of Laurel Project Space (now Favour)
. Erin is also a DINZ Best Design gold pin recipient for her work on Bones Publication(2018), which was produced through Radio One 91fm where she was formerly Music Director. Erin has a background in communication and design, graduating from the University of Otago with Bachelor of Arts (English and Psychology) and Otago Polytechnic with a Bachelor of Design (Communication). 


Previous Directors

2017-20: Grace Ryder
2014-17: Chloe Geoghegan
2010-13: Jamie Hanton
2009-10: Jaenine Parkinson
2007-08: Michelle Armistead
2007: Benjamin Smith
2006-07: Charlotte Parallel
2004-06: Ali Bramwell
2003: Robyn Dold
2002: Melanie Oliver
2001: Pete Wheeler
2001: Byrony Allen
2000: Steve Carr
1999: Kate Plaisted

Previous Administrators

2018-2019: Phoebe Thompson
2015-18: Emilie Smith
2014-15: George Watson                        
2013-14: Briar Holt
2013: Melanie Wait
2011-12: Ellen Pullar
2009-11: Deidre O'Malley
2008: Karyn Taylor
2005-06: Charlotte Parallel


About Current Trustees

Jacinta Beckwith (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou), born and raised in Ōtepoti, Te Waka-ā-Māui, (South Island) with whakapapa to Te Hauke and Tikapa in Te Ika-ā-Māui (North Island). Jacinta has a Master of Arts (Anthropology) from the University of Otago and a Master of Information Studies (Library Science) from Victoria, University of Wellington. She has worked in the University of Otago Libraries since 2008. Prior to this she worked on archaeological excavations throughout Aotearoa, and in Southeast Asia, as part of her tertiary studies. She currently works as the Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori at te Uare Taoka o Hākena, the Hocken Collections.

Dudley Benson (Co-chair) (Ngāti Pākehā) is a Dunedin-based composer, producer and performance artist. He has released two albums (The Awakening, 2008) and Forest (2010), has been nominated for the 2011 Taite Music Prize, and won a 2014 New Generation Award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation. His work focuses on the relationship we have with our Whenua.

Megan Brady is a Dunedin-based artist working across multidisciplinary fields. Newly graduated (2017), she holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts (First Class Honours) from the Dunedin School of Art, and recently exhibited her first solo show, A quiet corner where we can talk (2018), at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. She also facilitates creative practices at Studio2/Margaret Freeman Gallery – a small, all-inclusive art studio for local artists with disabilities. 

Matthew Galloway (Co-chair) is a Dunedin-based artist and designer and a Senior Lecturer at the Otago Polytechnic School of Design. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from Canterbury University. Recent exhibitions include; This Time of Useful Consciousness, The Dowse, 2017; Beyond Exhausted, The Physics Room, 2016; As Time Goes By, ARTifariti, Algeria, 2016; Beachhead's Peace of Mind, Artspace, 2016; and The Ground Swallows You, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, 2016.    

Taarati Taiaroa (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Apa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Kotimana) is an independent curator and artist based in Ōtepoti. A graduate of the University of Auckland, she holds Masters degrees in both Fine Arts and Museums and Cultural Heritage. She is a former co-director of RM – an artist run space in central Auckland. Since 2013, she has been sharing her research through symposium papers, exhibitions, public programmes, and publications including work with the Emerging Curators Programme (2015-16), co-convening the ST PAUL St Curatorial Symposium 2019, as a guest faculty member on the ICI for the Curatorial Intensive Auckland at Artspace and as Artist-in-residence at the Centre of Action Research and Evaluation at Massey University, Palmerston North. In 2020, she was Assistant Curator, Māori Art on the exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Recent written contributions can be found in Crafting Aotearoa (2019), Toi o Tāmaki’s magazine Art Toi (Dec 2020) and Art New Zealand (Summer 2021-22).

Katrina Thomson is a Dunedin-based artist working mainly in sculpture, with some past works presented as ‘installation performance’ in non-conventional spaces. Katrina has presented her work at international residencies, including Arte de la Tierra – 5th Land Art Festival, Paricutín, Mexico; Freshwinds Biennale, Iceland; and Art Islands Tokyo. She currently works as the administrator for the Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust, and as a technician at the Thin Air wind-turbine project.

Dr. Yuki Watanabe is currently a Teaching Fellow at the University of Otago. Yuki has an MA in American Studies, an MS in Media Management, and PhD in Education from the University of Kansas. She was a regular cast member of a weekly TV drama nationally broadcast in Japan. She was also involved in the production team of the show. Her research interests include representation of gender and social class in popular media.  



Founding Board Members

Steve Carr, Douglas Rex Kelaher, 
Kate Plaisted, Wallace Chapman, 
Emily Barr

Past Board Members 1999-2020

Saskia Leek, Ayesha Green, 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,
Cr. Aaron Hawkins, Emma Chalmers, 
Dr. Jonathan W. Marshall, Mark Bolland, 
Ted Whitaker, Jeremy Smith, 
Dr. Natalie Smith, Kirsty Glengarry,
Lauren Gutsell, Leyton Glen