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 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.
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.
Founding Board Members
Douglas Rex Kelaher
Past Board Members 1999-2020
Amy Jo Jory
Cr. Aaron Hawkins
Dr. Jonathan W. Marshall
Dr. Natalie Smith
Blue Oyster volunteers help with a huge range of operational work that would not otherwise be possible without their support. Volunteers not only gain valuable experience, but also the appreciation and support of the Staff, Trustees and the wider Blue Oyster community of artists, funders and audience. Volunteers are offered references and letters of support, as well as professional advice in their own artistic endeavours. Email us if you'd like to start volunteering.
We are available to take on students looking to complete work-placements at all times of the year for any length of time. We offer a comprehensive pre-prepared programme of for work-placement students that can be adjusted to suit the student's specific interests and education. Email us to enquire.
Although internships are not a recurrent part of our operations, we welcome anyone interested in completing self-directed projects in arts administration, curatorship, research and exhibition making. Email us if you are interested in undertaking an internship, include your CV, project proposal and suggested timeframe and dates.
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)