This whole thing started in March, when Roving Conspiracy needed a venue on short notice. Ideally, we needed somewhere good and central in South Brisbane—though anywhere would have done okay. We were just in need of a space.
Enter: Elizabeth Cowie, via Facebook messenger. She says she’s knows an empty house, says we ought to fill it for a while. So we do, for a night. A couple musicians and bands shot through: Georgia Rose, Tay Oskee, Flash Delirium, Hunting Jade (now Freddie), alongside a bunch of talented open-micers. It was a good night, and Elizabeth agreed:
So we kept on. We sat down in The Burrow (vale The Burrow) and then we sat down there again to discuss the plans and hopes and dreams for this small thing we called House Conspiracy.
It started off as the idea of a café where the space we call The Galley is now—using profits to subsidise the artists upstairs. Then it became a bar, and after that a hotdesk, then a grungy commercial gallery—it became a lot of things.
Through weeks of conversations with artists, producers, and creatives across Brisbane, House Conspiracy became what it is today: a morphing, fillable space in a city that’s in dire need of it. We began framing House Conspiracy as a space for residencies, events, private meetings, and more. We started looking at ways of funding it that weren’t based solely in transactional commerce (yes, we will have a bar for events—no, we are not a bar) and we went from there. This means that a whole lot of this thing relies on community and philanthropic support. We’re not all the way there yet, but we couldn’t be happier with what we’ve received thus far.
House Conspiracy is thrilled by change. The Residencies program, with its one rule, that each artist must leave a physical mark on the space, exemplifies this. The space should be cool. The space should be interesting. The space should keep changing and that alone should be a reason for people to keep coming back to attend events, or to use the Yard and Galley spaces for the creation and presentation of their next project. House Conspiracy is, in its simplest form, a kind and helpful idea for Brisbane’s arts community, but we reckon it should probably be cool, too.
Documentation, and what that means
Ephemeral is great, and ‘here and now’ is a philosophy House Conspiracy largely subscribes to—but it’s not enough in the arts. In ‘art’ certainly it is enough, but when we consider this whole ‘arts’ thing in the context of ‘industry’, whatever that means in 2016, then ‘here and now’ is no longer enough. To have a career—to ‘emerge’—you have to be able to point to something and say: ‘I was here; I did this.’
House Conspiracy wants you to be here; House Conspiracy wants you to do this. And we want to write it down, photograph it, ask you about it. At the end of this first huge year of House Conspiracy (Feb 2017–Feb 2018), every artist who has taken part in our Residency program, as well as a selection of those who have utilised or showcased within the House, will be documented in a huge physical publication tentatively titled The Conspirator. We don’t know exactly what form this thing will take just yet. We can only promise that it will be real, tangible, and engaging—a form of documentation people will want to read, editorialised and golden. A bridge between ‘art’ and ‘arts’.
The Logistics Director, Lewis Holmes, weighs in.
Brisbane is home to a whole host of immensely talented artists of all mediums and walks of life. Despite consistent cuts in recent years to programs and programming, the Brisbane community is thriving. Although the artistic community of Brisbane is creating amazing work, the people who are truly committed to their art are continually overworked, underpaid, and underprivileged by a hyper competitive market that thrives off toxicity and secrecy.
There has been great art made under the influence of money, the most obvious example being during the church’s peak when amazing music and murals were made at the raw behest of money. But the arts cannot allow itself to become, in itself, a prisoner of privilege. The question should never be, however convenient it may be, what the money behind a piece wanted to convey—House Conspiracy likes to think that art should be between the observer and the work.
Having observed the needs of the Queensland arts scene, House Conspiracy wants to make sure you can make amazing art no matter who you are, and to make sure that the opportunity means something by documenting, exhibiting, and showcasing the works. The burden is immense, but as a collective we can create an environment where anyone can create to their full potential and elevate Brisbane to the artistic hub it has the capacity to become.
Talk is cheap. Let’s try love.
You could look at us, our amazing team, and you could say: ‘Wow, you guys really darn well did this thing, didn’t you? You really did it.’
But we didn’t, really. At least, not on our own. Throughout this whole process there’s been a lot of guidance and support from all corners of this globe we call Brisbane.
Of course there’s the House Conspiracy team: myself, Lewis Holmes, Cinnamon Smith, Elizabeth Cowie, Ellie Roehrs, and Brittany Hill. There are the eighty or so local artists and creatives who showed up to our Artist Meet events and gave us their feedback on the project. There’s those who gave us support and advice on the side: Jonathan Sri, Sarah Winter, Harmonie Downes, Matt Seery, Glyn Roberts, Len Coyte, and so many more. I must also mention the reverent Tony Brumpton, without whom the House’s vision would not be half of what it is today.
And finally, Remi Roehrs, who cofounded this strange kindness with me—a huge thanks for the work you put in and the vision you brought with you during your time on the project. You’re gonna do great things.
And you, dear reader, can do great things too, regardless of House Conspiracy. Live your dreams and, if you like, let us know how we can help make them happen. In the meantime: explore the House, express your interest, and apply for residencies.
on behalf of House Conspiracy