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Local essentials with Sophie Davis from Enjoy Contemporary Art Space

By India 7 Aug 2019

Sophie Davis is the curator and manager of Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, which is moving to a new home in Left Bank on 10 August. She shares her Wellington must-sees, must-dos and must-eats.

Sophie Davis
Sophie Davis
Photo credit: Daegan Wells

A Cuba Street institution

Enjoy started its life as an artist-run space 19 years ago. It’s always been on Cuba Street. Originally, it was above Olive, and we’ve been in our current space, in the same building as McLeavey Gallery, for 15 years. It’s served us well, but we’re excited to be moving into a bigger, more accessible space. We wanted more room for our organisation to grow and for artists’ projects. Our new space is a lot more public – it’s ground-level, wheelchair-accessible and part of Left Bank Arcade, which is an interesting area of town and has the Friday Night Markets.

Starting again from scratch

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with First Light Studio, who consulted us on the fit-out. The space was empty for quite a while before this, and it was in an entirely raw state, so we were able to start with that and make it our own. I’m excited about the library space and reading room, which is going to be the heart of the space, between two exhibition areas. Enjoy has a long-standing focus on publishing and discourse in the arts, and that space will be a site for us to show our library, a discussion space and a free and open workspace, where people can come in, read our books, use the internet and do whatever they want to do.

Harbourside Markets no credit
Harbourside Market

Celebrating Welly art

The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt and Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University both do fantastic shows and public programming – really dynamic talks and opportunities for people to get involved. They’re all about putting artists and audiences in conversation and figuring out the most exciting ways to do that. Artist-run spaces like MEANWHILE [an artist-run initiative on Willis Street] and play_station [artist-run gallery also on Willis Street] are great for people who are interested in seeking out emerging artists and grassroots practice. There’s a lot going on in Wellington at the moment. The scene is quite young and vibrant. It’s exciting to see art-school graduates staying in the city and setting up their own spaces and initiatives.

A weekend in the city

My favourite thing to do on a Saturday is sleep in and then go to the veggie market. Maybe go into town and eat something yummy – I really like Customs for their coffee and doughnuts – or have dinner and a drink somewhere like Ombra if it's a special occasion. If I have out-of-town visitors, I usually take them to Te Papa and to eat something really delicious on Cuba Street, and maybe go for a walk along the waterfront.

Ombra bar
Ombra on Cuba Street

Neighbourhood haunts

I live in Brooklyn, up near the Wind Turbine. I love the Salty Pidgin, and it’s great being able to walk to town and have the view. I live in an apartment, and from our place you can see pretty much the whole city and down to the harbour. When I walk to work, I walk down through Central Park, and there’s the most amazing kākā feeder that they’ve set up on the path.


Enjoy Contemporary Art Space

Enjoy generates and facilitates contemporary art projects to promote the discourse of contemporary art practice in all its forms.

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