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Grace Ryder on Creativity


How would you describe what you do?

I do a bit of everything, as is the story with most people working in creative industries –  I am the coordinator at National Digital Forum (NDF) and also completing a contract with Christchurch City Council where I am supporting the events team with the development of Tīrama Mai as well as supporting the local arts community with access to public funding. As a curator and arts coordinator, I help people and organisations achieve their ambitions, whether that be supporting someone to develop and expand their research and exhibitions, or helping organisations operate efficiently and sustainably.

What was your most recent project?

There is generally always something on the go—I have a few ongoing relationships with artists, inching slowly forward by sharing texts, ideas and general conversations via email, Zoom and Facetime. Having had a little break from ‘curating’ in the traditional sense, my last project was in Pōneke, with artists Xin Cheng and Adam Ben Dror, called ‘A Place for Local Making’ – it’s an ongoing project for the artists and one I had the privilege of being involved in, in that time and place.

What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?

I am really proud of all of the projects I have worked on. I think any project should be done with pride and a sense of awareness, but also a willingness to learn. One project I have learnt the most from is From the Ground Up: Community, Cultivation and Commensality, which was an exhibition I developed while working at The Dowse Art Museum in 2020 – the relationships from this exhibition have been really valuable to me and has opened up new areas of research and interest that have continued beyond art and exhibition making.

What is essential for creatives to have in their life?

HNRY, or a seriously sympathetic, clever accountant. And friends who don’t work in the arts – time away from creative practice and thinking is important.

What inspires you about Ōtautahi?

My husband and I moved back to Ōtautahi last year because we missed our community. The creative community here is vast, there are so many people that have moved back here or have chosen to live here for the space and support that’s offered. I think we’re producing some of the most experimental and exciting work in the country, particularly in Visual Arts and Music. This is evident in exhibitions, gigs, parties and projects happening all over the show. People here are humble and simply get on with it, creating spaces for others to connect, learn and have fun. They’re critical and expect high-quality work from one another, but do this very generously. Also, since moving home I have done so much dancing – what a relief.

 What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?

Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that your projects, exhibitions, and work, are very personal. The community around you sees the final piece of a very large puzzle; they take from it what they need or want, which is often very different from what you might have expected or experienced. Focus on achieving your own ambitions, no doubt others will be appreciative.

What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?

It’s all a misconception.

What Christchurch artists do you most admire?

I’m not really into picking favourites, because I think even artists whose work you might not always ‘like’ or ‘admire’ can offer something, be it perspective, clarity or revolt – all good reactions when it comes to art. I’m not an artist so really, I admire anyone who gives it a red-hot-flaming go, artists who believe in their work and who recognise the political forces surrounding it. It’s challenging times ahead so hats off to those offering any perspective for existing in it.

What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?

Mokotron played at Haven a few weeks back and it was really amazing.

What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?

There is no job security – if you want it easy, to live in one place and work a 9-5 week, this might not be the industry for you.

What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?

Ferrymead. We live nearby and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.


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