The door’s closing this month on a large art space gifted by Queenstown’s Five Mile developers for the past four years.
Artist Marc Blake got the keys to the then-dusty ‘‘cavernous’’ space after approaching the developers in early 2019, resulting in what he terms ‘‘a completely unprecedented level of philanthropic support’’ that’s assisted hundreds of artists.
After hosting big shows with almost zero curation, Blake approached locals he considered were doing interesting work.
With the help of artists Vashiti Johnstone and Tracy Porteous, the first project, ‘Queenstown Contemporary’, which ran for about two years,
showed works from about 300 artists.
‘‘Over that time it became the largest artist-run space in New Zealand.
‘‘We did everything our selves and voluntarily, including one crazy weekend where I remember installing 110 art works on my own.’’
After Covid hit, Blake started a small website to keep local artists connected.
He also received Creative NZ funds to install nine large movable walls, allowing eight mainly local artists to run solo shows.
Subsequently, he turned the space into studios in which almost a dozen local artists have been based for the past two years.
Blake also championed the Te Atamira arts and cultural centre, which opened last May, after finding vacant space at Remarkables Park.
He also started his own ‘‘new kind of contemporary art gallery’’, Broker, which started in Beach Street — in premises donated by the Mountain Club — before moving back to Five Mile.
He’s just concluded his 14th show, and has been selected to participate in the annual Aotearoa Art Fair in Auckland next month.
Blake says he’ll decide where to move next when he’s back.