Art To Find: Devonport Lacking Public Artworks

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 | 1 Comment

Linda Blincko of The Depot Artspace bemoans the lack of local art visible in the Devonport community.

Philistinism allows only the unplunderable – the ugly or mediocre – to survive. Devonport has a public face that celebrates its history but belies its rich cache of arts and culture.

Devonport Community and Arts

Linda Blincko: Copper fish don't wash

Devonport is a veritable el Dorado of the arts. With its galleries, a writers’ centre, theatres, recording studio, band rehearsal spaces and book shops all squeezed into a small geographical blip at the bottom of the North Shore, Devonport has, arguably, more arts facilities per capita than any other community in the region.

The arts have always been well represented in Devonport, once an affordable place for practitioners. Over the years creeping gentrification has forced a few dedicated creatives to the periphery of the peninsula, but those who dug themselves in before the wealth wave hit have perpetuated and developed its artistic edge.

Devonport’s artistic identity gained prominence in the 70’s and 80’s largely as a result of the Works, a cooperative begun and run by local potters, glass blowers, kite makers and other creative visionaries. The Works was situated opposite another of Devonport’s local hubs, the Masonic Tavern, and was home to a branch of the Auckland Film Society, as well as the Stone Oven, which began its popular bread-making enterprise in the same building.

Given its artistic heritage and its present preponderance of artists and arts facilities, why is there no overt or visible celebration of the arts in Devonport; why is there such a paucity of public sculpture? Apart from a work by Virginia King recently vandalised beyond repair, and a piece by Richard Joughin, ‘shelter’, stolen from the small park above the Victoria Theatre, there have been no other sculptures commissioned for public display in the community.

The most prominent addition to the visual design landscape, and which boasts a regular audience, albeit captive because of the free seating surrounding it –most other street seating being provided by the plethora of cafes and available only at a price – is the water feature in the pond on the corner of Clarence St and Wynyard Road.  This stunned faux-copper fish and sole public presence does little justice to the community it inhabits and, sadly, represents.

1 comment

  1. Philippa Bentley says:

    Totally agree, Linda. There are some stunning sculptures being exhibited currently at Sculpture on the Shore. It would be so good to have such work permanently dotted around Devonport. How about… Christian Nicolson’s ‘In Search of Barebottomland’, the towering Dulboot the Giant (from Bad Jelly the Witch) standing among the huge Moreton Bay Fig trees around the library… and Hannah Kidd’s ‘The Hedge Trimmer’ pruning a tree on the road island bed at the T intersection of Lake Road and Albert Road, with Trixibelle looking on…and Niko Thomsen’s cool, old car ‘Qualis vita, finis ita’ having its own car park perhaps on Clarence Street, complete with encroaching metal beetles….and…

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