Expansive Encounters

Expansive Encounters

Expansive Encounters

Expansive Encounters is a reciprocal exchange between Northern Rivers and Ōtautahi Christchurch. Over a four-week intensive, two Northern Rivers artists will participate in an immersive research and development opportunity to increase their professional practice within art in public spaces.

Hosted in September 2023, artists will be supported to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural strands and values that have shaped art in public spaces in Ōtautahi Christchurch. The successful participants will generate innovative ideas, explore diverse practices, and deeply engage with the ecology of the public arena post-earthquake.

Arts Northern Rivers has proudly partnered with host organisations Gap Filler, Life in Vacant Spaces, and Toi Otautahi. Each of these organisations played pivotal roles in arts recovery efforts following the 2011 earthquakes, and showcase their commitment to creative placemaking, community development, and urban design in the face of disasters. 

Upon their return, successful participants will share their knowledge through a series of professional development workshops in the Northern Rivers region. These workshops will provide valuable insights into their experiences and contribute to collective action in post-disaster recovery efforts in our area.

Following the completion of both exchange programs, a project symposium will be organised to bring together participants from both countries. This symposium will provide an opportunity for engaging discussions on public art as a crucial strategy for renewal and recovery in communities and spaces.

This project arose from the outcomes of the Creative Industries Recovery Forum where Public Art, First Nations Arts, and Dance/Physical Theatre were identified as three streams of focus.


Artists were invited to respond to Project Guidelines during a callout in May. The successful 2023 recipients are local artists Erica Gully and Antoinette O’Brien.

Erica Gully is a passionate community-engaged arts practitioner specialising in street art and youth development. Her goal is to collaborate with the local community in Ōtautahi Christchurch and establish a youth-to-young adult outreach program focused on art in public spaces upon her return.

Antoinette O’Brien is a ceramicist and sculptural artist with a focus on figurative works that explore emotions and connections with popular culture, nature and society. She seeks to develop skills in large-scale public artworks, and community-engaged practices.

These artist selections were carefully chosen through a rigorous assessment process led by six industry professionals from Australia and New Zealand. The assessors were enthralled by the candidates’ genuine intentions for the exchange program, and the remarkable potential they demonstrated to enrich the growth of the Northern Rivers cultural sector through their artistic learnings.

For enquiries please contact: Holly Ahern, Transitional Projects Coordinator at projects@artsnorthernrivers.com.au


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, with financial and in-kind support from Arts Northern Rivers, Christchurch City Council, Life in Vacant Spaces, and Gap Filler.