Since setting up our first space (now home base) under the archway of St Paul's Cathedral in 2011, we have been keeping our eyes peeled and ears to the ground for unused city spaces to turn into our next venture. When the space for 136 Johnston Street was a blip on our radar, we zeroed in on it.

With the delightful ‘3 Vases’ by Stephen Benwell, the middle show of our short 3-month-long season, currently on, it’s timely to recap the project’s process from build to launch.

136 Johnston Street has been set up as a temporary roaming project of Chapter House Lane. Over multiple Sundays, it was steadfastly built by Chapter House Lane committee members Dave Brodziak and Louise Klerks. The fit-out was modelled on our city space: a glass-fronted slice of the classic ‘white cube’.

The bulk of the building materials were salvaged from Louise Klerks’ previous curatorial project at South Wharf Promenade. Funds from the 2014 CHL annual fundraiser afforded us the other bits and pieces needed to polish it off. (For more on Lou’s South Wharf side project, have a look here.

For our inaugural launch, it was all hands on deck. The committee, clad in gumboots and wielding shovels, cleared out the back lane and courtyard. The effort was well worthwhile: at the opening, we were blown away with the solid response from the arts community. Over 150 people bopped from Benjamin Lichtenstein’s ‘Paperwork’ in the front exhibition space to the drinks and nibbles in the back courtyard.

We couldn’t have done it without support from local businesses: Bluebird Espresso, Fitzroy NurseryFlowers Vasette, McPherson Wines, and Quality Food World.