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September 2, 2014

Changing the way business does art

With their freshly-minted Black Box Visual Artist Residency, small business owners Ashley Halliday and Joslin Koolen are re-scaling and re-thinking corporate support of the arts.

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  • Words: Brendan Cooper and Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Daniel Marks

Adelaide has an excellent track record of strong government, community and corporate support for the arts.

This philanthropy (understandably) tends to be practiced on a large scale and to flow in an established direction: Big-name companies send money in the direction of large institutions and well-recognised events. Ashley Halliday and Joslin Koolen break the mould with their new Black Box Visual Artist Residency and contributions to Adelaide’s south-west community.


For more information on the Black Box Visual Artist Residency or to make an application email Joslin on

CityMag meets Ash and Joslin at their premises on a small street called Byron Place, tucked away in the industrial area somewhere between Grote and Gouger Street. Upstairs is Ash’s business – Ashley Halliday Architects, while downstairs seems to be a well-appointed house filled with entirely desirable things, however these things conveniently have price tags attached. In reality, this is Joslin’s showroom for A.nouk – her styling, events and homewares business.

The house-turned-showroom-and-office was built by Joslin’s father and, of course, designed by Ashley, who says they’ve occupied the building for “six, maybe eight years”.

While the couple’s time here has been well spent establishing and running their respective businesses, they’ve also been keeping one eye on what is happening beyond their own walls.

“We’re here for the long term,” says Joslin. “Adelaide is definitely our home base. It’s not just words, it’s something that we really are pouring ourselves into.”

To this end, they are offering a three to four month artist residency in a currently unoccupied studio to the rear of the building. Targeting artists who specialise in either painting, lighting, textile or digital art from SA, Australia or overseas, the residency was thought-up as part of Joslin and Ash’s plans to contribute to the strength of Adelaide’s creative community and to get a little bit more activity happening in the west end.

“A space like this is like a blank canvas,” says Ash. “[The space is] part of that eclectic matrix of new age spaces that support vibrant communities.”

In addition to the residency, Ash and Joslin are also involved with developing two more buildings right next door on Byron Place, which they hope will help them gather critical mass on this side of town.

One will be a house for a friend to live and work from and the other – number 18 Byron Place – will be a multifunctional creative space with a café, workshop, events room and co-working area.

“We’re also including a pocket park along the front of number 18 and 20 which can be used by the public to interact more with the streetscape,” says Joslin.

The most extraordinary thing about these initiatives is that they are not only conceptualised by Joslin and Ash, but funded privately by the couple and Joslin’s equally passionate parents. By putting their own money and energy into the community, they are pushing Adelaide ever-forward, rather than waiting about to see what Government is going to do.

And in their minds – it’s all worth it just for the chance to connect with others.

“The main thing is to share it. It’s a great feeling when people are complimentary and get something from what we do when they visit,” says Joslin.


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