Kensington’s new NABE-ourhood arts space

Sean Car

Ever wanted to have a crack at arts and crafts, but never found that perfectly comfortable space to begin your journey? Or simply wanted a mental break away from your busy life to find a creative outlet … ideally, in your neighbourhood?

Well, people of Kensington, rejoice! Founder and director of NABE Studios Zoë Blow has reimagined a former fish and chip shop on Ormond St as just the sort of community space you’re after to get those creative juices flowing.

With a passion for creative education, Zoë’s background in community arts had always led her to want to open such a space, and since recently stepping away from a role in the commercial arts world, the time had come to realise the vision for NABE.

With its name derived from the slang term for “neighbourhood”, as well as the Japanese hot pot “where everything gets chucked in”, NABE Studios is what Zoë described as a community space with a “hodgepodge mixture of anything goes”.

With the deep fryers now gone and the creative forces moved in, NABE Studios is breathing new life into the former fish and chippery, with two artists already setting up in its studios, and with other shared spaces available to rent.

Focused on being a space for all Kensingtonians, NABE Studios will also host weekly events ranging from sustainable craft workshops, life drawing and family arts sessions through to open group exhibitions which locals can apply for.



The space is also available to hire for a range of community events – creative, or not. Whether it be an exhibition, an open-mic night, a film screening or even just a humble evening of cards with your friends, Zoë said the space was open to all.

“It’s a real community space,” Zoë said. “They’re shared studios, so it’s just trying to create a nice sort of community vibe that people feel comfortable in.”

“I think when I was younger and sort of just starting out making my own artwork, there were so many galleries that just all seemed such awkward spaces and that were so intimidating.”


This is literally the place next door. It feels like you’re walking into someone’s house, and you literally are walking into a house and an old fish and chip shop!


And, with that same community spirit in mind, NABE is now gearing up for its big opening event on April 1 – “The NABE Studios Small-ish Art Prize” – an all-ages art competition at $35 an entry where Zoë said, “anything goes.”

“The opening event is April 1, and all entries will be accepted, and there’ll be judges and prizes. We’ll have music, sustainable crafts, and family-friendly workshops, and that will be our ‘hello and welcome’ and chance to meet everyone,” Zoë said.

“The whole sort of vision with this is to give people the confidence to participate.”

Zoë shared with North West City News the time when as a 14-year-old, her mum had submitted her artwork without her knowing in an open arts contest run by the Brunswick Art Gallery.

She said that the excitement she felt when she saw her piece in the gallery’s window had given her aspirations as a young artist a real boost.

It’s something she hoped both the “small-ish” prize and NABE itself could similarly inspire in opening creative windows for other people, and not just in art.

“It’s really about a mindset shift – creativity is not just drawing or painting. Once you’ve had a crack, you could then go home and go, ‘maybe I could get out in the garden’, or ‘I could tinker with the car’,” she said.

“It’s all meant to be a building block to give you the confidence, and when you leave the space going, ‘do you know what? I feel a little bit zingy’.”

To pursue that “zingy” feeling, make an enquiry or just get in touch for a chat, head online via its website or Facebook. •

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John Buncle

John Buncle

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