Cuckoo was formed in January 2001 by dreamers Ani O'neill, Daniel Malone, Judy Darragh (artists), Jon Bywater and Gwyneth Porter (writers). Collectively they created this space as a means for discussing ways to present artist's projects outside the traditional method of running a gallery space. Some of the artists involved with cuckoo are Dan Arps, Kate Newby, Sriwana Spong, Ben Tankard, Janet Lilo, Fiona Connor, Seung Yul Oh and Nick Austin.
Cuckoo was formed in January 2001 by dreamers Ani O'Neill, Daniel Malone, Judy Darragh (artists), Jon Bywater and Gwynneth Porter (writers). Warren Olds (designer) has been our 'webmaster' since the start. We were all previously involved in artist-run spaces around New Zealand – Teststrip in Auckland, the High Street Project in Christchurch, and The Honeymoon Suite in Dunedin. In 2000 we felt there was a lack of artist (RUN) activity in Auckland. We took this situation as an opportunity to discuss ways of presenting artists' projects outside the traditional method of running a gallery space. We had already experienced the hassles of gallery infastructure and we didn't want to be paying rent, painting walls and fund-raising. As the cuckoo is a lazy bird we decided to look for other nests to occupy.
We approached dealer galleries, institutions and art spaces, asking if we could use their spaces during 'down-time', and began a series of programmes that included poetry readings, sound performances, film screenings, group shows and artists' projects. We invited artists we knew and whose work we enjoyed. When we approach a gallery there is little description of the show – we work on a trust basis that we pass on to the artists that we work with. The shows last from one night to one week with invites and information about our activities distributed via email. Our currency is our community and we rely on 'koha' or the gift, people giving space or time or skills in non-financial exchange. At the end of each project members get together to 'make omelettes without breaking eggs'. We blow out the contents of eggs and decorate the shells. These are sent as gifts to artists, contributors and participants.
Cuckoo's most recent project was to send a team of eight artists, and an individual artist doing a solo project to participate in the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne. The Silver Clouds team consisted of Dan Arps, Kate Newby, Sriwana Spong, Ben Tankard, Janet Lilo, Fiona Connor, Seung Yul Oh and Nick Austin. They occupied the space allocated to the Melbourne artist-run initiative CLUBSproject in the Festival's Containers Village. They also put on a group show on the roof-top adjoining the Order and Progress shop in the CBD to which CLUBS members added work. Richard Maloy inhabited the Container and made a nest of rags, twigs and paper he collected from the streets of the suburb he was staying in on the week leading up to the installation period. This was the latest in his series of welcoming, crafted occupations (tree-hut, kissing booth etc). All the artists were co-opted into participating in Ani O'Neill's Squads project. This involves a large collection of uniform shell-suits and all the members of all the artist-groups she has ever been associated with. The Silver Clouds as a Cuckoo temporary collective were therefore eligible and spent a day in the 'guava and guacamole' suits.
Cuckoo is currently plotting a new project to occupy part of the SCAPE Biennale in Christchurch this October; and maybe an unruly film festival.