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The Chop Shop art venue gives pop-up culture a kick-start in Braddon

Artists Sancho Murphy and Pat Rose want to turn this derelict warehouse in a Braddon alleyway into a live art venue with music, graffiti, performances and a bar.

It's called The Chop Shop, and they aim to open the doors in August with big party. But they also need help from the community, and are hoping to raise $10,000 for the project on Kickstarter.

Pat Rose, Sancho Murphy and Patrick Dillon in the warehouse that will become The Chop Shop pop-up bar and gallery.
Pat Rose, Sancho Murphy and Patrick Dillon in the warehouse that will become The Chop Shop pop-up bar and gallery. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberrans will have only a short window in which to enjoy The Chop Shop: the warehouse on Lonsdale Street is set to be demolished at the end of the year to make way for a new apartment development.

In the meantime, Ms Murphy and Mr Rose plan to turn it into a venue focused on the city's street art scene.

Artwork at The Chop Shop in Braddon.
Artwork at The Chop Shop in Braddon. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Ms Murphy, who runs art store Sancho's Dirty Laundry, said she wanted a place where fellow artists could show their work cheaply and easily.

"[To exhibit in a normal gallery] the application process can be pretty lengthy," she said. "You can't afford the rental fees, the gallery fees. I just found some arts festivals didn't do the street art and graffiti thing justice.

"While these festivals are a good opportunity, I felt there was room for improvement to do it a little bit better."

Property developer Nik Bulum owns the warehouse and the neighbouring Lonsdale Street Traders, and will build apartments on the site in the new year. He offered the warehouse to Ms Murphy for The Chop Shop project in the intervening five months.

Street art in The Chop Shop.
Street art in The Chop Shop. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"He knew that I was looking for a space to do this live art, graffiti art venue as well, so the opportunity popped up," Ms Murphy said. "He asked, 'Sancho, would you be interested in taking this on?' It's been really good working with him so far."

Mr Rose, who has a background in architecture and carpentry, is designing The Chop Shop. He says there will be a stage at the back of the warehouse, ramps for the skater crowd to do tricks on and a bar at the front.

He and Ms Murphy are negotiating to bring in a pop-up barber shop and Ms Murphy will open her store in the warehouse during the day. Patrick Dillon, the man behind the Sly Fox coffee stand in O'Connor, will provide food and hot coffee. 

"Then it will be open during the day so people can come and check out the gallery exhibitions and Sancho's Dirty Laundry," Mr Rose said.

The pair plan to make the most of their five months in the warehouse.

"Hopefully in the summer months we'll be able to open this [alley] up and have seating out here, run markets down the alleyway, lay some AstroTurf so people can just chill out," Ms Murphy said.

They are holding a trial run later in July, with a party to launch Queanbeyan poet Omar Musa's new book Here Come the Dogs.

And they hope to go out with a bang.

"It's pretty firmly scheduled to be knocked down at the start of January ... Everyone has to be vacated by late December," Mr Rose said. "We just want to get to the 31st and then just end on that with a mega New Year's Eve party."

He and Ms Murphy say they have put all their savings into the project and do not expect to make a lot of money from it.

They will be doing the bulk of the work to open The Chop Shop, but had help from artistic friends who have produced their Kickstarter video, designed their website and contributed in various ways. They have raised $2600 in just two days, with another 15 days to go.

"We're rolling the dice a little bit," Ms Murphy said. "Everyone's been pretty enthusiastic. It's one of those projects where, because it's so fun, and the nature of it is building something that everybody loves, it doesn't feel like work."

To contribute to The Chop Shop's fundraising effort go to kickstarter.com.