13 June 2020 - Present

The Social Space
Brisbane, Australia

VIdeo: The Space (2023), 24 minutes
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong discovered that The Social Space, a local community facility, was largely vacant and that its catering kitchen had recently been vacated. The artists saw this as an opportunity to build a new future-focused community around the intersection between the radical South Brisbane activists and the progressive local community groups.
Engaging the principles of radical hospitality, they created a community meeting space by offering free, carefully-prepared, wholefood, vegetarian breakfasts and lunches, served with espresso coffee or tea, in an idyllic, outdoor area shaded by large trees. Within several months, an unusually lively, diverse and egalitarian community space developed; it became where people from a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds intermingled, where the queer community interacted with traditionally socially-conservative cultures, and where rough sleepers could genuinely speak to local politicians or community leaders as equals. Importantly, an energetic and committed group of volunteers also formed and within a year of opening, became a mutual-aid collective responsible for the operations of the facility.
From the beginning, Woods and Leong were active in inviting creatives, activists, community groups and members of the local community, to be involved in the space. These invitations resulted in numerous one-off exhibitions, events and workshops but also spawned a number of ongoing initiatives: a free (opportunity) shop, permaculture gardens, compositing facilities, a laundry, community meeting rooms, craft and tai-chi classes - which, taking their cue from the initial gesture, are all free.

Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong would like to thank the hundreds of friends, neighbours, volunteers and participants that have formed the community around this project; without their contributions, this project had no longevity. Particular gratitude goes towards the members of the collective whose energy, generosity, thoughtfulness, dedication, creativity, skills and persistence have created a miraculous environment of affection, enthusiasm and agency which was the foundation of the community. Very special thanks go to Belong/Communify for their foresight and forbearance in their early and continued support of the project and community.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.