‘The Chop Shop’ – Get Onboard!

‘The Chop Shop’ will be taking over an abandoned warehouse in the heart of Braddon (Canberra, Australia) for 4 months, with a total of 26 weekends of events, running up to the New Year. Billed as a place to support the arts, music, fashion, and the fringe culture; but without the wank. An independent community based house of fun. In amongst making the venue entirely out of recycled materials, Sancho (of Sancho’s Dirty Laundry fame) took some time to chat with our Canberra correspondent Damo to give us the low down…

DW: What is ‘The Chop Shop’?

Sancho: Oh oh, you know that episode of ‘The Simpsons’ where Bart emancipates himself and moves into a loft downtown and finds that Tony Hawk lives within the building in a max-chillax pad – complete with a skate ramp and throwing a party with Blink 182? Cross that with Hansel’s pad from Zoolander, and that’s the Chop Shop! Haha.

On a more serious note, the Chop Shop is here to enliven Canberra’s street culture. We’re not re-inventing the wheel, just filling a much-needed gap in Canberra. Essentially, we just want to provide a platform where we can showcase Canberra’s creative talent that gives our city character. Friday’s are dedicated Arts nights and Saturday’s are gig nights. A point of differentiation with this initiative is, unlike a gallery, we won’t be charging rent or taking commissions, 100% straight up back to the artists.

We’ll also be focusing heavily on arts from the fringe such as street, graff, tattoo, bike/custom car culture as well as running street food festivals, art markets, independent movie nights to name a few.

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DW: Why does Canberra need this?

Sancho: Canberra has a lot of opportunities for artists to show their works in a gallery setting, but they seem to only be taken up by a select few artists in the loop (We’ve been to so many cheese eating – wine drinking gallery openings with the boobie balloon appreciation society haha just joking). New artists are rarely given a chance or even noticed – this is relevant to moreso those that don’t fit into traditional art categories, or don’t have a piece of paper saying that they are qualified to do what they want, yet they are equally (if not moreso) talented and disciplined in their practice.

I guess we want to build this network – it’s always been there. Our team is born in the grassroots of local creativity and the aim is to transform the space from within this context.

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DW: How’d you come up with the idea?

Sancho: Ummmm, whilst arts festivals are a good opportunity in Canberra, we felt that there was room for a few improvements when it came to the ‘street art’ & graff component.

We’d all worked on previous projects together, so we partnered up to make a gallery for artists not for Scrooge McDuck to use artists’ for profit. Pat (Coy) has a background in architecture, carpentry and running bars, Sancho (Sancho’s Dirty Laundry) through independently running an arts store acquainted street artists + graffers aplenty whom she thought would be rad if there was a space they could meet and collaborate, and Benjamin Reeve (Artist & DJ extraordinaire) has worked on similar projects interstate and has helped greatly through the consultation process. Along with the warehouse being a pop-up gallery/events space, it’ll also serve as a pop-up events bar and we’ve also engaged with a mobile food vendor Patrick (‘Sly Fox Coffee’) – who will be working some magic menus. So with the dissatisfaction at the current state of affairs in regards to ‘street art’ and graff and the lack of spaces in Canberra to exhibit, the idea was born!

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DW: How can we help?

Sancho: This initiative has been months in the making with a few line-up changes behind the scenes. Currently, there is such a great mix of motivated self-starters working on this project that are so into it and keen to take a chance, there is no doubt the program of events is going to be tight!

We’re rolling the dice a little bit and we just need a little assistance to get us over the finish line. We’ve launched our Kickstarter campaign, you can peep the video to pick up what we’re putting down and get a better idea of what this project is all about:


Such Canberra, such wow!

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