I N T E R V I E W
Nick Walsh / Eliza Webster of Never Project Space (Kirikiriroa)
Arpie caught up with Nick and Eliza of Kirikiriroa's Never Project Space ahead of their one year anniversary celebration this coming weekend. Read on to find out how the first year of this amazing space has developed, some personal highlights to date, and the plans for the future.
Congrats on the one year anniversary! I bet that's gone quick. You guys must be stoked with how the first year has gone?
Thank you! We are. It’s been a whirlwind of a year so it’s nice to take a minute to take stock.
How has the space developed in the first year compared to how you planned it?
It’s developed alongside the plan pretty closely, I think. The idea was always to create a space where art and music could co-exist and that’s exactly what we’ve done albeit with a bit of tweaking along the way…things like opening the Never store, or starting to do regular poetry readings (‘Sodium Glow’, in collaboration with Mayhem Literary Journal) have all happened really organically.
Beyond that, the past year has also seen a lot of new faces inhabit our five studio spaces. We’ve got a really nice mix of people/different creative disciplines happening under the same roof now which is something we’ve tried to cultivate.
On a personal note, both Eliza and I now have studio spaces of our own at Never, so we’re hoping we’ll be able to take some time to work on our own artistic practices - something which has been tricky to manage with everything else going on! It seems like a pretty common trajectory that people heavily involved in arts facilitation let their own creative practices fall by the wayside. We’re trying not to fall into that trap...
I was initially surprised to see Die!Die!Die! play there - was that always part of the master plan or was that a bit of an experiment, (and if so how did it go)?
I suppose the D!D!D! show was a bit of an experiment in a way... we initially intended on Never being more of a space for electronic or folk music and not so much louder ‘rock bands’ just due to the nature of the space itself (i.e. ostensibly an art gallery, not a music venue).
The D!D!D! dudes hit us up about performing and it was a pretty difficult prospect to turn down. Initially there was a bit of trepidation but we figured it would be kind of a trial by fire; if we can host one of the loudest bands in the country, then anything else is going to be easy in comparison!
The show went really well! It was a packed house, the band killed it (as they always do) and they sold a shit tonne of merch. Happy days!
How have you found the public's response overall to what you are doing at Never?
Incredibly positive! There seems to be a lot of good will in the community for what we’re doing. I think that’s probably partially due to the simple fact that Kirikiriroa has only a small but mighty community of venues to support the arts, which is something that people have been making noise about lately.
Beyond that, Never is just a really unique space to be in. We design the space for each event to be a welcoming and unintimidating place to be.
Shout outs to everyone who supports us! We love ya.
How has the location benefitted or hindered Never would you say?
Obviously being in Frankton means we get less foot traffic than we might if we were in the CBD but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
We love the atmosphere of Commerce Street and the community around it. It’s a really unique little pocket of Kirikiriroa with miles of history and character.
The usual Friday night trajectory is to hit the Frankton Pub (Aleways Inn) after a Never Show. I think it’s cool to be able to provide a night out for people that is centered in a different part of town.
What are your top 3 events from the first year at Never?
What does year two hold in store, more of the same or anything new?
Our goal this year is to keep building on what we’ve been doing. Lately we’ve started to bring other people on board so people can expect to see some new faces around the place.
In a lot of ways we feel like we’re just hitting our stride. Last year was about making a splash and saying yes to everything. Eliza and I barely knew each other before we started Never so we’ve had to do a lot of learning on the fly and figuring out how we work together as people.
More than just a business or a venue, we see Never as an art project in and of itself, so there’ll always be new things happening whether that’s doing more offsite shows, new faces, changes to the space, etc. We’re both pretty restless people and we take pride in keeping things fresh. Watch this space!
And the one-year birthday party, this coming Friday...tell us all about it!
It’s gonna be a big one! Open studios, open bill.
A lot of people probably don’t realize that beyond the gallery and store, Never is home to five studios with 10 residents practicing their crafts behind usually closed doors.
Currently we’ve got photographers, screenprinters, book publishers, a fashion designer, painters and musicians. Many of these people are integral to the running of Never so we thought it would be a good chance to open up the doors and let people check out the studios and the rest of our space.
Then from 7pm there’ll be a series of short “rapid fire” (10-15 minute long) performances from local musicians, poets and even a stand-up comedian!
The idea is to encourage people to take the plunge and perform live without the pressure of having to perform a traditional set length of 45 minutes to an hour. This is a format we’ll be doing more of in future.
Finally, we’ll be cranking up the speakers and having a boogie until late. Tell ya mates!
Never Project Space's One Year Anniversary is this Friday 18th June - koha entry - open studios from 6pm, open bill from 7pm, 123 Commerce Street, Frankton, Kirikiriroa.