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 Cafe then above it (now Taste Nature) on High Street in Ōtepoti.

Street view image of Blue Oyster through the window there is a large window fixed on a on a lean
Mike Hewson, Stud Flight 2013. Installation view

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.

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 continues to assist, promote and support emerging artists, writers, curators and practitioners to work free from commercial restraints.

Previous Staff 

2023-24: Rosa Nevison, Design & Publishing
2023-24: Caitlin Donnelly, Administrator
2022-23: Lindsey de Roos, Public Programmes & Communications
2020-22: Hope Wilson, Director     
2020-22: Erin Broughton, Design, Publishing & Comms Manager
2022-22: Erin Elizabeth, Administrator                             
2020–22: Mya Morrison-Middleton, Public Programme Coordinator  
2017–20: Grace Ryder, Director 
2015–18: Emilie Smith, Administrator 
2014–17: Chloe Geoghegan, Director 
2014–15: George Watson, Administrator 
2013–14: Briar Holt, Administrator 
2013: Melanie Wait, Administrator 
2011–12: Ellen Pullar, Administrator 
2010–13 Jamie Hanton, Director 
2009–11: Deidre O’Malley, Administrator 
2009–10 Jaenine Parkinson, Director 
2008: Karyn Taylor, Administrator 
2007–08: Michelle Armistead, Director 
2007: Benjamin Smith, Director 
2006–07: Charlotte Parallel, Director 
2005–06: Charlotte Parallel, Administrator 
2004–06: Ali Bramwell, Director 
2003: Robyn Dold, Director 
2002: Melanie Oliver, Director 
2001: Pete Wheeler, Director 
2001: Byrony Allen, Director 
2000: Steve Carr, Director 
1999: Kate Plaisted, Director

Founding Board Members

Steve Carr
Douglas Rex Kelaher
Kate Plaisted
Wallace Chapman
Emily Barr

Past Board Members 1999-2024

Aroha Novak
Louisa Baillie
Trak Gray
Andrea Bell
Matthew Galloway
Dudley Benson
Megan Brady
Taarati Taiaroa
Katrina Thomson
Jacinta Beckwith
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


2023 Justina King (Otago Polytechnic, Design Communications)
2022 Isaiah Okeroa (Dunedin School of Art)
2022 Eva Kotzikas (Otago Polytechnic, Design Communications)
2022 Emma Buchan (Otago Polytechnic, Design Communications)
2021 Hannah Renwick (Archival)
2021 Rosa Nevison (Otago Polytechnic, Design Communications)
2021 Reuben Scott (University of Otago)
2021 Nona Shackleton (Dunedin School of Art)
2021 Jacob Tucker (Dunedin School of Art)
2021 Riley Young (Dunedin School of Art)
2021 Sophearith Dareth (University of Otago & JobDUN)
2021 Bunty Bou (University of Otago & JobDUN)
2020 Koren Allpress (Exhibition Installation)
2019 Anna van Hattum (Archival)
2019 Emily Crooks (Archival)
2018 Māia Abraham (Toi Māori Aotearoa Partnership)
2018 Anna van Hattum (Archival)
2018 Lydie Schmidt (Curatorial)
2017 Jessica Taylor (Archival)
2016 Marilona Kautzmann (Curatorial, 3 months)
2015 Tim Player (Gallery)
2014 Amiria Puia-Taylor (Tautai partnership)
2014 Loulou Callister-Baker (Archival)
2011 Jenny Chen and Suzanne Claessen (Curatorial)
2006 Bernard Hamlin (Curatorial)