an invitation to think about Auckland housing differently

[Mar - April 2017] (NZ) For the Shelter project for TEMP, an art/science festival at Corban Estate Arts Centre visitors built an ever-growing community shelter made of free and local materials where anyone could hang out, sleep, shelter from elements, and bump up against new experiences and friends.

This was an invitation and opportunity to experiment, imagine, debate, and prototype how we might do housing differently in Auckland in a way that is kind to the living world and generous to you, too.
Activities included self-building workshops, open discussion and dreaming sessions, and always available free play with various materials.
Documentation coming soon

Fermentation Traders

[Feb 2017] (NZ) - With Philippa Nielsen - pulling a handmade cart around the Devonport area, trading handmade sauerkraut for foods from local lunchers, finishing with a mixed-up shared feast at the north side of the Devonport Library.
Part of the City Loop Project - Feb-Mar 2017, Auckland.

Summer Open Workshop

[Nov 2016 - Feb 2017] (NZ) Summer Open Workshop (SOW) at and around Mairangi Arts Centre was a programme of indoor/outdoor participatory art activities open to all, held during the summer school holidays 2016-17.

We continued exploring the idea of the 'open workshop' as a starting point and platform for collaborative creation and pleasure in our local community.

Project page HERE
Supported by Creative Communities Scheme

a welcoming terrain for relaxing, making, eating and being. together

[Oct 8-16 2016] (NZ) a welcoming terrain for relaxing, making, eating and being. together was a public project for Changing Lanes, which is a collaborative project between Artweek Auckland, Auckland Council and Heart of the City.
It was a week-long open junk-workshop in the CBD.
The all-weather-able, robust, and sturdy structure and playkit offered visitors a (s)low key opportunity to play with, unpick, and reconstruct objects and stories of the city while spending a weird, relaxing time with fellow pedestrians and city dwellers.
Photos HEREand some videos HERE

small modifications

[Aug 2016] (NZ) small modifications was a month-long collaborative project at Dunedin Public Art Gallery that posed a number of questions and open propositions: Could the gallery function as an open studio? What are reflexive ways of making and participating in both art and life? How can we work with communities to transform everyday materials? And what potential does art-making have in modifying life? This project invited gallery visitors to work together, and with the artists, to consider these questions and see where their interactions may take them. Curated by Andrea Bell.
Project log HERE

loose pARTs workshop

[Jan 2017] (NZ) A free in/outdoor art workshop for all ages and abilities at Mairangi Arts Centre as part of Summer Open Workshop

Humans and some animals created things, sounds, stories, buildings and experiments with 'all kinds of stuff' in this always open workshop and stimulus terrain in the MAC galleries and the public green space behind MAC.

It was open to anyone who wished to participate - children, people with or without 'gold' cards, various abilities.
Photos and videos HERE

Mairangi Organic Making Space

[Dec 2016 - Feb 2017] (NZ)Mairangi Organic Making Space was an invitation to spend time making, doing and 'making-do' for Summer Open Workshop. It was a prototype hand-made park that is always changing and does not need money for its development and upkeep.
Photos and videos HERE

Make Your Own Culture - Friendly Foraging & Sauerkraut Workshop

[Jan 2017] (NZ) Instigated by Philippa Nielsen we invited one and all to "Make Your Own Culture" - an opportunity to partake in the art of making sauerkraut at Summer Open Workshop. This improvised foraging walk/workshop/conversation was an experiment at fermenting a revolution as a community of people dedicated to creative living.

Make Your Own Culture incorporates Philippa's interests in juxtapositions of scale, layers of meaning, metaphor and silly puns. It invites a place in your life for co-creation, ritual, community gathering and bodily nourishment.
Photos and videos HERE

Local Clay Outdoor Workshop

[Jan 2017] (NZ) An open and "open to chance encounters" outdoor workshop making vessels with local clays along the walkway between Mairangi and Murrays Bay with inspiring Jack Tilson.
Photos and videos of the open-air studio HERE

Meditation in Junk Terrain

[Jan 2017] (NZ) The wonderful Adam Ben-Dror initated an amazing inter-generational group meditation session in a stimulus terrain of junk during the Summer Open Workshop.
Photos HERE

Pop-Up Exhibition

[Jan 2017] (NZ) On Jan 19 we held the opening and closing day of a one-day exhibition of weird works by Summer Open Workshop artists. Including but not limited to stuff by Clint Taniguchi and Cath O'Brien, diverse materials from the studio/workshop of Xin Cheng and Aya Yamashita, and pamphlet by Balamohan Shingade... and much more amazing stuff dug out from the rubble of the 10-day workshop that we have no idea who made it!

Photos and videos HERE

weird sounds and DIY instruments meeting

[Jan 2017] (NZ) We were inundated with sound explorers and easy to make DIY instruments. Organised by legendary Bays music educator Clare McCormack, facilitated by Robyn and Anna, and energised by other interested friends of all ages and abilities. We made sounds and unusual instruments, and enjoyed a weird jam session where everyone was a beginner and expert at the same time.

The sound meeting log with documentation, videos, and sounds of inspiration is HERE (to be updated with resources from the sound meeting soon)

Photos and videos of our ever-growing homemade sound playkit are HERE

Yakitori-ya WEIRD BIRD (All Summer Community Food)

[Oct 2016 - Feb 2017] (NZ) WEIRD BIRD is a festive and free mobile art yakitori stall in & around Mairangi Bay, Auckland for crazy community hospitality.

It is magical collaboration between a Yakitori King / dance expert, a yakitori stall craftsman / tanuki, a weird bird illustrator, and anyone else who wants to join in - Website HERE

WEIRD BIRD roamed the streets of Mairangi Bay offering treats during summer 2017 as part of Summer Open Workshop.

LAST EVENT: Sunday 15th Jan, Maxwelton Drive, from 4.30pm-ish until when we "felt like it"
Included FREE hair CUTZ by Mairangi/Kyoto hair king Katz.

FREE 'garage sale' of creative resources at MAC

[Jan 2017] (NZ) On 18-19 Jan we hosted a free 'garage sale' of creative materials from the 10-day open workshop at the MAC gallery space.

The hope was that "Everything MUST go!", and some of it did!

zero-yen research and doing tour

[April-May 2016] (NZ/JP) zero-yen research and doing tour - a project on the shelter crisis was a month-long public workshop project in parks, streets, art schools and educational facilities across Tokyo. We are using this experience as starting point for a series of public activities throughout New Zealand investigating alternativeways of tackling the challenges facing New Zealand cities.
Project page HERE
Supported by NZJEP

Organic Making Space / play'clay'ground

[Term 4, 2016] (NZ) At the Organic Making Space at Mairangi Bay School we use organic matter such as branches, flax, dried flowers, rocks, and clay to make practical and whimsical creations such as hand-made furniture, mobiles, wind chimes, and insect dwellings. We then work together create a living, ever-changing, decomposing sculpture trail in local 'wild' areas such as the school, parks, bush tracks, or on berms in the neighbourhood.

Let's work with 'stuff' around us to develop care and attachment for our nearby environment!
Photos HERE and Project Description

house hat parade for Auckland

[Sept 17, 2016] (NZ)"When people go through a street wearing high hats, the architectural appearance of the city is changed."?Hundertwasser

How could we do 'housing' different?

This was a slow time making high house-hats for a parade down Ponsonby in search of pleasurable and frugal ways to dwell in Auckland 'Super City' (at Objectspace for the "Beauty is in the Street" exhibition).

TEMP Shelter Arts Emporium

[July 2016] (NZ) TEMP SHELTER ARTS EMPORIUM (link) at Corban Estate Arts Centre, 19-21 July 2016, was the first experimental workshop for our shelter project for TEMP Auckland, "an outdoor art science experience contributing to the conversation about climate change, to raise awareness of the issues and to act as a catalyst for discussion and action at a personal, local and national level."
Photos and pamphlets on PROJECT PAGE

Summer Art, Not-School

[Jan 2016] (NZ) Summer Art, Not-School was a free programme of art activities at and around Mairangi Arts Centre during January 2016. A drop-in art space for all ages operated during opening hours, with other events popping up around the neighbourhood - construction of waterslides in public parks, bucket sculpture making in Mairangi Village, car-graffiti at the beach, drawing on the windows of a local house, and a free garage sale of creative materials. Summer Art, Not-School was part of an experiment in discovering new ways to enjoy art in our community.
More details HERE
Supported by Creative Communities Scheme

stimulus terrain for innovation processes

[2015-present] (NZ) stimulus terrain for innovation processes is a space at the Idea Collective / Innovation Hub at the Museum of Transport and Technology (Auckland, New Zealand). This is part of a "dynamic, evolving, collaborative project that celebrates New Zealand's vibrant innovation culture" by pairing five diverse New Zealand innovators with artists and designers to illuminate the activity of innovation, ideation, creation and collaboration.
More details HERE

small waste workshop

[Term 4 2015] (NZ) Small Waste Workshop (Mairangi Bay School, Auckland NZ) attempts to widen the margin of play in the school grounds and foster an environment where students can learn about waste, its possibilities, and the challenges involved in collecting and working with it. Waste resources collected in the school and community are repurposed by students in a zone of free self-building.
Go to project index HERE

making stuff with junk

[2015] (NZ) We made stuff with junk with the students of Waiotahe Valley School on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island over two days in early August 2015. It was great!
Photo set HERE

on enjoying our gardens and other wild places

[2015] (NZ) Invited month-long workshop/not-sculpture for headland Sculpture on the Gulf 2015 (Waiheke Island, NZ) "exploring the idea of the sculpture as a starting point and platform for collaborative creation and enjoyment".
Photo set HERE

home remedies for frugal and friendly living

[2015] (NZ) Using our research on makeshift and resourceful making as a starting point, and the kind of design thinking based on improvising with what is at hand and the given environment, participants explored how assembling frugal materials together can be used to meet the practical needs of our daily lives, to transform spaces and the function of things.
Photo set HERE

Makeshift at the Chinese New Year Festival

[2015] (NZ) "developing a shared understanding of home-made remedies" - A market stall asking festival goers to share their home remedies. We collected stories of the things people made to fix stuff around their houses in a process of using research as a starting point for generating conversations and activities with a diverse range of collaborators.
Short summary, photos, stories HERE
Supported by Whau Local Board

Improvised Makings with AKAU Workshops

[2014] (NZ) We traveled to the Far North to hang out with AKAU Workshops and do some impromptu makings/workshops as a forerunner to their community build.
Photo set HERE

what could happen on a fence

[2015] (NZ) Work on a fence for the Summer Art Show at Ponsonby Central (Auckland, NZ). "...it is a new challenge to craft not beautiful and convincing artifacts, but evocative and open-ended materials for further experimentation... to creatively set the scene for a distorted here and now" (Joachim Halse).

making-do

[2014] (NZ) Programme of public walking workshops, a gallery workshop and a collaborative publication, supported by Artspace (NZ).
Documentation HERE

Improvising Games from Slums, Megaregions and Super Cities

[2014] (NZ) A range of research artifacts as playthings from Cambodian slums, Auckland sub/urban zones, the Tokyo megaregion and more. Fluid game dynamics and warm-hearted late afternoon sustenance provided footholds for experimentation in psychological mapping, conversation, gift giving, ad-hoc archiving, and leveraging the memories of others.

Pancake Trolley and Stall

[2014] (NZ) A series of neighbourhood pancake trolley rounds and stalls for October Kai Auckland Community Meals week.
More details HERE

Sense Pleasures of a Super City

[2014] (NZ) A studio project for second year students at Elam School of Fine Arts (University of Auckland). It's about things like lived experience of the city, storytelling and documenting, design as a tool for inspiring people and opening up terrains of investigation, at least.
Project site HERE; Project overview HERE; Resources HERE.

Making-Doing Park - Concept Design

[2014] (NZ) We were invited by Auckland City Council to work on concept designs for James Watson Reserve in South Auckland, New Zealand. We held some weird discussions, community mapping workshops and other interventions.
Documentation HERE

Making Do at Auckland Zinefest

[2014] (NZ) Making Do publication launch via a zine making workshop at Auckland Zinefest (19 July 2014, Sat).

A Stimulus Terrain! for Widening the Margin of Play

[2014] (NZ/CZ) An interactive installation and workshop as part of the Distracted Workshop presence at the 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno, Czech Republic). In collaboration with split/fountain. More details HERE

Border Crossing workshop for AUT

[2014] (NZ) All day workshop for Auckland University of Technology second-year art students, on the theme of wide ranging research, and trans/inter-disciplinarity.
Photos from the workshop HERE

Making Do Workshop at Artspace

[2014] (NZ) Savouring the simple pleasures of practical experimentation with resources at hand and the environment as given. After a brief clearing of the ground in the Artspace Education Room the workshop we headed outdoors and pottered around the inner-city with a trolley of full of tools and junk. We were not afraid to follow our interests.
Part of our making-do programme with Artspace (NZ)

Innovation Center in North-Eastern Japan

[2013] (JP) A stakeholder workshop and discussion document about building for creativity for programming stages of an innovation center in Japan. For Van Der Architects.
Small document HERE

Making Friends

[2012-2013] (JP) Series of workshops and interventions researching the nexus of urban wildlife and myth for malleable cities.
Documentation HERE

Building for Plants and Play

[2013] (JP) Turning an unusable and unfriendly suburban jungle/rubbish dump into a usable space for children, plants and parents. Not finished yet!

Happy Dutch Workshop

[2011] (JP) HAPPY DUTCH WORKSHOP x WA WA PROJECT: Dutch house making workshop / Dutch tulips & coloring journal in collaboration with Tanemaki Project at 3331 ARTS CYD in Tokyo.

Hand Made Tokyo

[2011] (JP) A large-scale collaborative mapping workshop on memories, present situations, and hopes for green and grey Tokyo. Held at 3331 ARTS CYD, Tokyo.
Documentation HERE


small workshop

a mixture of workshops, often together, by Xin and Chris.

While based in Auckland suburbs, we have the resources of the Super City at our doorstep, harbours, beaches, mountains and rivers in our backyard, and diverse collaborators throughout the country and around the world.

based on research and experiments in New Zealand, Japan, Cambodia and the EU by making-doing, xin cheng, a-small-lab and companions

contact: chris@a-small-lab.com