The Swamp, site shots. Photos: courtesy Pip Stafford.

The Swamp Art Compostery is a new space that seemed to just bubble up overnight with the potency of a virus or some kind of day-glo mould in the CBD of Hobart.

Described as an art compostery, The Swamp has emerged from other just as intriguing and just as fungoid art shows in Hobart - the Alleyway Show and The Next Show. Those events were pretty much overnight parties that, mushroom-like, just sprang up, but the focus was on a huge range of local art and getting it seen by as many people as possible in the short time allotted. The Alleyway Show was exactly what you think it is, a show in an alleyway: a roof was constructed from scrounged timber and blue tarp, and about 40 different artists were represented. Everyone is familiar with the idea of DIY and doing things from exactly where you are with all the resources you can muster, and that was the ethos: let's just do it. There was something for everyone to love and to hate and that was the point; it wasn’t about anything other than just chucking stuff into the public arena and letting them decide. Some people sold a few things and a lot of people turned up.

Within six months, the crew were in a bigger location, with a skate ramp, a DJ and some wildly decorated cars. This was The Next Show, housed in a shell of a building generally used as a carpark. The curatorial premise again was pitch in, everyone who wanted to make something was welcome, which meant the list of artists was even longer, and some breathtaking, huge-in-scope work emerged, taking full advantage of the space. The party went all night, art got sold and the vibe was exciting.

The only problem was cleaning up.

If there was one person who was most responsible for the events, and for the mess, it was Aedan Howlett, who was a driving force behind both shows, and makes his own work as well. Aedan needed to do something with all the leftover graffiti on doors and timber sheets scrounged from skips that no-one wanted to claim and after getting sick of storing them, he enlisted the aid of his artist/signwriter mate Stu Dobell, and the Swamp Art Compostery emerged, covered in garbage but fully formed.

The Swamp itself is a room in the Grand Poobah complex, a venue that boasts two bars, a huge band room, some wild performance nights (You want jelly wrestling? We’ve got jelly wrestling) and The Swamp. Through a door and down a corridor there’s an installation of a filthy shack sitting over a polluted bayou that’s the final resting place of a number of shopping trolleys, ten-gallon drums and milk crates, some sections covered in a bubbling oil slick that makes you think you can smell the stink even though you can’t. The shack is made from the aforementioned shows’ detritus – sawn-up art making ragged shingles and a dubious weatherboarding. The art’s been re-used, or rather composted, and is all the better for it. Paintings hang around the walls, there’s a very makeshift bar that works perfectly well and the space seems to change every time I go there. This would seem to be the plan. The purpose of the Swamp is to fester and grow and just be, and the art will appear and disappear. Aedan hopes that people will participate and is open to ideas, and rather than exhibitions it seems like stuff will just happen, continuing the highly organic process that led to the emergence of the space. It’s a new angle for Hobart art and one well worth exploring; just be wary. There’s a sign on the entrance that says "The Swamp will eat you alive" and the space seems organic and feral enough for this to be a distinct possibility.