Octapod was founded as an informal collective in 1996 by ‘a group of artists and students who liked the idea of a public access media space – where people could create and browse interesting and unusual, non-mainstream media’ (Healy, 2005).
Initially known as The POD (and officially registered as ‘The Platypus of Deliverance Association’, which won the debate against ‘the Prince of Darkness Association’), Octapod was conceived as an incubator and a common infrastructure for a variety of independent projects.
It was formally incorporated as an organisation in July 1997. Founders included Damien Frost, Sean Healy, Aaron Bristow and Marcus Westbury.
Octapod’s flagship event,This Is Not Art (TiNA) began life in 1998 as the National Young Writers Festival and the National Student Media Conference. These two events took place in the week after the Newcastle Fringe Festival. With the addition of Electrofringe in 1999, and Sound Summit in 2000, the term This Is Not Art was coined to explain the five very different but interconnected events.
Other early projects delivered by Octapod included:
- 101 Bikes for Newcastle (bicycle recycling campaign)
- The New Pollution (Australian zine anthology book and website)
- Virtual Newcastle – a photographic ‘click and wander’ tour of Newcastle
- h2w2 (guidebook)
- Corporate Standover Tactics For Dummies
Octapod operated as a volunteer run, project based organisation until 2003 when it took on two part-time paid staff as the result of increased funding.
Over the past few years Octapod’s activities have focused on strengthening creative sector capacity, providing skills development opportunities to artists and supporting increased participation in the arts by diverse communities across the Lower Hunter region.
Read all about what drives and inspires us.