Tassie’s newest arts festival Hobiennale is a celebration of artist-run initiatives and their contribution to our contemporary art landscape.

Kicking off early this month, Hobiennale (or HB17, as they like to call it) unites 18 artist-run initiatives from across Australia and New Zealand for ten days of exhibitions, music, performances, artist talks and parties in places and spaces across Hobart’s CBD and the ‘burbs.

Image from The Romantic Picturesque. Courtesy of Christopher Ulutupu, Kevin Cartwright & play_stationImage from The Romantic Picturesque. Courtesy of Christopher Ulutupu, Kevin Cartwright & play_station

Members of each of the ARIs will curate a show, featuring the work of more than 100 emerging and mid-career artists from Tasmania, interstate and New Zealand.

The festivities will take place in traditional venues across the region such as Contemporary Art Tasmania, Salamanca Arts Centre, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and Rosny Barn; to not-so-traditional sites such as inside the gothic sandstone walls of Domain House, a soon-to-be-demolished electrical store, and a bygone cinema.

Jack Caddy- Keep Calm and Practice Wicca. (2017), video still 3-channel looped videoImage credit: Keep Calm and Practice Wicca, Jack Caddy. 

Artist-run initiatives are collaborative organisations established and operated by artists and arts workers — usually voluntarily, and usually in between their own practices and day jobs.

They play a crucial role in the arts ecosystem — providing an alternative platform to mainstream galleries, often supporting new, emerging and experimental artists as well as an opportunity for people to cut their creative teeth into a whole range of arts-related and administrative skills.

Hobiennale is facilitated by Hobart’s Constance Artist-Run Initiative, and curated by Constance co-chairs Liam James and Grace Herbert (Grace also founded local ARI, Visual Bulk).


Liam: We want to show people what artist-run initiatives are and what they do, and to showcase and celebrate some of the diverse artists working across Australia and New Zealand.

We believe that artist-run initiatives are an underappreciated and underheard sector of the arts community. These organisations are driven by dedicated, hard- working, and often unpaid people who support and nurture early-career artists and experimental practices. And it seemed really important to us to create a bold, proud platform during a time of lowering arts funding and opportunities.

What has the response from participating ARIs been like?

Constance ARI may be heading-up HB17, but I feel like the festival belongs to all the artists, ARIs and partnering organisations involved. They have been super-supportive. And they are all responsible for making this festival come to fruition.

Each organisation is bringing something totally different to the table, but it all seems to flow into the other exhibitions and events to form a really cohesive program.

21742900_1328639497259523_4236887242911770_nStay Golden, Lauren Abineri and Thomas Capogreco.

What do you want audiences to get out of HB17?

Initially, we had core aims and ideas about the festival, but it’s evolved since then. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to be didactic.

The audience’s experience has to be self-driven and defined. There is so much on offer — the exhibitions are just the beginning, so everyone can have a different experience at HB17.

You could just experience the parties, meet great people and have a great time — and that’s totally legit. Or, you could meticulously examine every exhibition and talk it out, which is super-great, too.

But short answer, I want people to look and to talk.

21686275_1327495610707245_4789242429167408721_nMagic Hour @ Coles Carpark Alice Springs, Beth Sometimes.

How would you describe the creative relationship you and Grace share, and what other projects have you worked on together?

Grace and I have been co-chairing Constance ARI for a few years now (gosh, time flies). And we’ve previously collaborated on a multi-site project called Land of Milk and Honey in 2015.

We have a healthy and supportive working relationship. I think we drive each other to keep going and to push ourselves onto more challenging projects.

21740399_1330046490452157_7736604512631800251_nUntitled (Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free), Hayley Millar Baker.

I wouldn’t have the fortitude to undertake anything of HB17’s scale on my own, but with her support, I feel like it is possible.

I think support is key to a good creative relationship — varied skill-sets are good, but an understanding friend is better.

HOBIENNALE 3-12 November



*The writer is a member of Constance Artist-Run Initiative and is also involved with Hobiennale 

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