TSG Podcast – Episode 1: Third Space Gallery History

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EPISODE 1: Third Space Gallery History

Host Abigail Smith kicks off the first episode of the Third Space Gallery Podcast with a retrospective look at the genesis of Third Space Gallery in a conversation with original founders, Judith Mackin and Chris Lloyd.

In the 90s, there wasn’t much of an art scene in Saint John; there were no artist-run spaces in the community to collaborate. In 1997, Lloyd wondered where all the artists go in the city and decided that he wanted to create a space alongside Mackin and two others. Judith’s “if you build it, they will come” mindset inspired Chris to form the original Third Space, named “The Space” located on Canterbury Street above the Printing Press. The Space’s name was inspired by the mental, conceptual and physical space art takes up in an environment. For the first two years of running The Space, Chris taught Judith what art was and helped her develop and understand how she felt about it. This was the beginning of their over 20 year friendship.

Chris soon moved away from the city and Judith was left running shows out of the center on her own. Judith notes how much of a process it was to advertise events before social media – they would have to walk around the city and staple posters to telephone poles, and create press releases to be put in the newspaper with a “pay as you can” entrance to attract attendants. Eventually, Saint John’s artists began to apply to host and collaborate in shows in this new gallery. Mackin ran The Space on her own until 2000, without pay and without being able to receive any government funding. Judith outlined the importance of being proactive to receive funding, so she moved onto foraging meaningful relationships with corporations who supported art within the community, like Moosehead Breweries. Being proactive as a gallery gained The Space the ability to host events, shows and performances wherever they could in the community whenever they wanted to. 

In 2005, Chris returned to Saint John and worked alongside Judith, who now worked in the Brodie Building on Princess Street, to establish a space in the building. And with some low-end renovations, a second version of The Space was created. This second gallery inspired Chris to begin diligently applying for governmental grants and funding – The Space ended up receiving around twenty thousand dollars from the provincial government, which was not enough to fully run the space, but it was something. Two years later, Chris moved away from Saint John again but continued to work from a distance with The Space, he continued to apply for grants and funding until he decided it was time for a shift in ownership.

Looking back on The Space and Third Space’s establishment, Chris explains that “art can be about a different way of thinking of space.” He reflects that people of Saint John have continued to show a willingness to make the leap to understand contemporary art. Chris believes that the willingness he helped establish with The Space has since helped Third Space move along from what it was to what it is now.  

After wrapping up the interview with Chris Lloyd and Judith Mackin, Abigail explores another side of Third Space Gallery’s history with former executive director and the first THIRD SHIFT festival coordinator, Emily Saab. 

In late 2014, Emily was volunteering on the Third Space board as Chair when the board began discussions about hosting a nighttime festival experience, Emily thought it made sense as a “gallery without a gallery.” Within six months, the idea went from drawing board to execution. Emily explains that the experience of organizing and making the festival come to fruition with a group of people who hadn’t seen a contemporary art festival happen in Saint John was a moment for the art community, members of the public and sponsors to realize it could happen and belong to Saint John. 

Emily described the idea of THIRD SHIFT being inspired by all of the different people who make creative art in the city. In 2015, Saint John didn’t have the biggest contemporary art scene, but it did have musicians, visual artists and theater performers. So, THIRD SHIFT was created as an event under the umbrella of the contemporary art scene to cross the paths of different strings of art, and to inspire the idea of learning and collaborating with people who are in different fields. From THIRD SHIFT, came a lot of built trust among business owners, the community, the city, and Third Space itself. 

As an ever-developing city, Saint John has changed since the first THIRD SHIFT Festival in 2015, where the biggest projects took place in parking lots and construction sites that have since developed into establishments, buildings and workplaces that Third Space has continued co-beneficial relationships with. The first THIRD SHIFT was inspired by reminding people that the spaces within the city belong to them, the idea of sharing urban spaces, questioning ownership and privilege of these spaces, wondering who has access to art in landscapes that are being cut off, and questioning why you may not feel welcome in a space.

Creating THIRD SHIFT was a huge accomplishment for Emily and the 2015 Third Space board, they were able to view their organization and creation as creators but more importantly, were able to zoom out and experience the event as viewers. To learn, enjoy, and be inspired by art is exactly what THIRD SHIFT is about.

Artist Profile - The Third Space Gallery Podcast, by Abigail Smith with Local 107.3fm

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    The Third Space Gallery Podcast is hosted and produced by former Third Space Board Member and THIRD SHIFT Festival Associate Abigail Smith, with production support from Local 107.3fm. It features themed episodes with artists, community members, and professionals.

    Listen to all available episodes on SpotifyApple Music, or on ThirdSpaceGallery.ca.

    Theme music is Norwood Falls by Wangled Teb, and artwork is by Jud Crandall of Pulp and Paper Designs. 

    If you are interested in broadcasting or podcasting, reach out to Saint John’s only Campus and Community Radio Station, Local 107.3fm for more information. Email Local FM Station Manager Julia Rogers at julia@cfmh.ca or go to their website at localfm.ca.