Image: At play  (Photography: Wen Xiong )

Image: At play (Photography: Wen Xiong)


Emma BugDen

In a neoliberal era that favours individual success above all else, collaboration is a radical act, which challenges the status quo and suggests new (and old) ways of being.

-Emma Bugden

Curator, writer, editor, contemporary art maven, professional judge, do-it-yourself believer and behind-the-scene Jill of all trades, Emma Bugden has carved out a career in the arts over two decades.

Originally trained as an artist, she has worked as a curator for both independent spaces and public art museums, holding key leadership roles within the sector. She has worked with over 100 artists to realise ambitious and challenging exhibitions that have toured New Zealand. Bugden has a reputation as a fierce artist advocate with a passionate belief in the power of art to transform and enrich communities.

With her partner, Frank Stark, she is co-founder and Editor of Small Bore Books, a specialist art and design publishing imprint dedicated to connecting historic texts with new audiences. Small Bore Books’ modest but thoughtful catalogue has brought forgotten gems, like seminal journal New Zealand Potter, back into the spotlight.

Alongside publishing, she is currently completing a PhD on artist-run galleries, which tracks how artists’ lives and careers have been shaped by the art world, just as they reshape it themselves in turn. In this role she is shortly to present a paper at the 6th Workshop for Managing Arts and Cultural Organisations at Oxford, UK.

She has served on numerous panels and trusts, and is currently a Trustee of the Blumhardt Foundation, which provides support to the craft / object sector, and a member of the Public Art Steering Group, providing guidance to the Whanganui District Council. She was the New Zealand Nominator for the Signature Art Prize 2018 at the Singapore Art Museum, Judge of the Portage Ceramic Awards 2017 and a Juror for the 2016 Walters Prize at Auckland Art Gallery.

Emma Bugden has held key roles including Senior Curator at The Dowse Art Museum, Director of ARTSPACE, Curatorial Director at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, and Curator, City Gallery Wellington.