DIY Culture In The Disconnected City

On Saturday afternoon, after the Salamanca Markets have packed up for another week, Hobart can be very quiet. Tourists have departed in their campervans to explore Tasmania’s delights, while residents have fled the city centre for their comfortable suburban homes on Hobart’s outskirts. In a derelict building, next to an ugly asphalt wasteland (home to a Sunday morning grower’s market) a group of artists have spent a month preparing for a 24 hour art event. The NEXT Show opened on Saturday night, with a big party featuring great costumes, performance art, a collaborative art-wall and a skate ramp.

Despite its reputation as a conservative and provincial city, Hobart is actually home to a small but thriving cultural scene. However, while Hobart’s big festivals attract the support of millionaires and the state, emerging artists have to make their own opportunities. Each year the art school turns out a steady stream of fresh new graduates, but the city seems only to be able to support a couple of artist-run spaces for them to show their work in. Rather than bemoaning the fact, Hobart’s young and emerging artists are busy making their own opportunities. These artists are embracing a DIY aesthetic.

Following the success of the One Night Only (ONO) Projects and the Alley Way Show, NEXT Show creatively engages with an under-utilised urban space. The NEXT Show seems to be part of a world-wide trend of pop-up galleries temporarily occupying commercial buildings. Some critics believe that that the pop-up gallery actually reinforces the idea of “art as décor,” but for emerging artists in a small city like Hobart, it may be one of the best ways to create a community.

Says one of NEXT Show’s organisers, Aedan Howlett:

“Sometimes, when everyone is all mashed together, you feel a bit disconnected in the city, but at the same time, everyone’s right there, and there are all these talented people around the place. If you can get everyone to work together, you can turn these spaces into anything you want.”

The NEXT Show was always intended to be a community event, and it also happens to be beneficial for both the city’s artists and its landlords.