Media release

The Press (Christchurch, NZ)
15 November 2000

Small Gallery, big punch

A cultural dab on the corner of a busy Christchurch intersection may be modest in size but is well worth a peek, writes Nik Wright.

The Kiosk is New Zealand's smallest art gallery; a bijou cultural dab on the corner of a busy Christchurch intersection.

The Kiosk's miniscule size gives no indication of its artistic punch. This public art space on the corner of High and Manchester streets has been developed and co-ordinated by artist collective Oblique. The elliptical art space with its two small windows was designed after the shape of a poster bollard. Fittingly it was poster magnates Phantom Billstickers (Outdoor Advertising) who became Oblique's patrons and provided the funds to make the project a reality.

Kiosk designer and co-ordinator Julaine stephenson regards the public art site as a "glimpsing thing", a taste of art for passers-by.

The project aims to expose art to people who otherwise might not have the time or the inclination to visit a gallery, but will take a voyeuristic peek as they pass along the street.

Julaine Stephenson passes on a lot of the credit for the Kiosk's excellent positioning to ongoing council arts advocate Warren Pringle, who was vital to negotiations between the artist's conceptual aims and the Christchurch City Council's Environmental Planning Unit's schemes for remodelling and improving the High Street and Manchester Street corner.

Apart from one incident of vandalism when the Kiosk first appeared, public reaction has been strong and positive. The work on show always receives "feedback from the locals".

Last week marked the launch of the website for Kiosk, currently hosting its first online installation. Warren Olds, who lectures in graphic design at Waikato Polytechnic, has created two designer modems in his pateneted shade of pastel blue. Like digital action artstar, Sean Kerr, whose Time Piece christened the Kiosk when it opened in June, Olds explores digital media, presenting the machine components as beautiful objects in themselves. The same approach has been applied to Kiosk's website, slick and eye-easy yet designed for rapid access to information.

Like the gallery, the site packs a large amount of content into a very small amount of space, giving not only information on the exhibition programme but schematic diagrams and instructions for future exhibitors.

Encouraging outside participation is all part of the long-term plan. Stephenson believes that it is healthy for the site to involve as many people as possible.

Her curatorial policy involves sharing exhibiting slots with the Physics Room, and Robert McDougall Annex, as well as encouraging other key organisations such as Christchurch Polytechnic and the New Zealand College of Art and Design.

She disagrees with claims that Oblique risks sacrificing its founding principles as a co-ordinator of "non-institutional" public art works.

In the larger scheme of things, the kiosk project was conceived as space for the whole town and as such has always aimed to draw on as broad a base as possible. Involving multiple institutions is "vital" in the long term.

Kiosk's artworks have featured Layla Rudneva-Mackay's fur-clad boxes, and fellow Dundedinite Douglas Rex Kellaher's kinetic work T.A.B, a piece in which polystyrene packing balls were blown around in perpetual whirlwind generated by recycled computer fans. The site also hosted Art and Industry's Madame and The Bastard short films.

Stephenson sees these art works as a clear example of what works best in the Kiosk. Unlike a gallery where artists can afford to have work breakdown, kiosk pieces must be rigorously tested. This is due to the fact that once closed, the space remains sealed for the duration of the show. Accessing the Kiosk requires an engineer o be called out and the artist has only one hour at most to install their work.

Article by Nik Wright


Media release archive

05 June 2000:0800 Phantom presents Kiosk (Kiosk launch)
15 Nov 2000:Small Gallery, Big Punch (Press article)

Print-ready images

Download hi-resolution images of the Kiosk for use in print media. Images are saved in TIF format, usually measure approximately 10x15cm @ 300 dpi resolution, and are saved in CMYK color mode. Larger images are available on request. Images can be downloaded in zip archives.

Image 1: Kiosk
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Description: An image of the Kiosk during Warren Olds' H:1 P:KASTLE exhibition.
Credit: Image by Warren Olds