Enjoy was born out of transparency and openness and a focus on critical dialogue combined with some utopian ideals such as being 'Liberated from Commercial Constraints' and has been a place for dissent and discussion. Artists Ciaran Begley and Ros Cameron with administrator Rachel Smithies established enjoy in 2000. Exhibiting artists have included Caroline Johnston, Eve Armstrong and Violet Faigan.
Trying to define the role of Enjoy as a space, its functions and obligations to its community, is tricky and often gives rise to debate. I think this reflects some of the founding values Enjoy was born out of: transparency and openness and a focus on critical dialogue combined with some utopian ideals such as being 'Liberated from Commercial Constraints', as is stated in the gallery's mission statement. Enjoy has been a place for dissent and discussion; whether on the gallery website's discussion forum, at artist talks or as part of the seminar and workshop series.
The last year has seen the gallery grow up somewhat, demonstrated most noticeably in Enjoy's move down the road to a larger, lighter more 'gallery-like' space. While the 'old' Enjoy survived without running water or other basic facilities, the 'new' Enjoy has superior storage space, a kitchen, bathroom and an almost entirely glass wall which acts as a window shop display for passing pedestrians. The new location also provides an interesting comparison for visitors, as the gallery now resides alongside two dealer art galleries: Peter McLeavey Gallery and Idiom. Enjoy has luckily managed to remain on Cuba Street, a vibrant creative part of the city which is also host to a network of cafés, bars, secondhand bookshops, vintage clothes stores and music venues.
When artists Ciaran Begley and Ros Cameron with administrator Rachel Smithies established Enjoy in 2000, it was the only artist-run gallery functioning in Wellington. The birth of Enjoy coincided with the establishment of Wellington's first University-based Fine Arts course at Massey University and these two events, although not directly related, signaled the beginnings of a renaissance of activity in the Wellington arts community. In the subsequent six years several new spaces have popped-up and the vital role Enjoy Gallery plays in catering to emerging and more established experimental artists as well as its role in the larger community has become more apparent. Its strength has been its ability to adapt to and reflect the needs of its supporters.
The fields of music, architecture, performance and sound-installation and their relationship to contemporary art, have consistently been explored through gallery-initiated curation. Campbell Kneale's (aka Birchville Cat Motel) HUMDRUM, was one of the first shows of the new gallery location. Kneale recorded and mixed layers of domestic-related noises that he played from randomly looping speakers placed around the gallery walls. A living room arrangement of seats and stacked piles of National Geographics completed the installation. In more recent times the gallery's sights have increasingly expanded from the local to encouraging more international artists and projects to exhibit with the space, and to connect with particular projects based in Australia such as CLUBSproject from Melbourne.
A board of trustees, two employees and an amorphous group of volunteers runs Enjoy. Support from Creative New Zealand has cemented the space as a sustainable project. Enjoy is able to assist artists by providing a fee towards the material and production costs of their exhibition as well as with curatorial support and publicity. The creation of the Writer/Publicist position is indicative of Enjoy's commitment both to self-criticality and the development of publications as enduring records of work that is often ephemeral in its nature. The gallery's most significant publication is Enjoy's Five Year Retrospective Catalogue. Produced to celebrate Enjoy's fifth birthday, on July 4 2005, it includes essays from local writers and images of every show at the gallery.
A particular standout feature of the Enjoy year is the Summer Artist in Residence Programme. What was initiated as a pragmatic response to a funding gap over the summer months has now developed into a distinctive feature of the gallery. Enjoy is now able to contribute both a stipend and funding towards material costs. The artists and projects selected often reflect the nature of relational art-making practice and, like much of the work shown at Enjoy, the notion of art as experience. The residency allows a selected artist to use the gallery as a studio, exhibition space and place of interaction with the public for a six-week period. Our most recent artist in residence was Eve Armstrong, whose project titled SLIPS (or Small Local Improvement Projects) proved popular with both locals and the many tourists and out-of-towners that visited the gallery over the summer months. Some of the successful projects to be selected for development by Eve involved working with a local youth centre to develop a media-kit, facilitating a working-bee for a community garden and organizing an arts social soccer tournament to bring local arts institutions together.