Auckland Art Gallery curator Mary Kisler reveals why she loves the resolute and frivolous nature of this historic building in Albert Park
Auckland Art Gallery curator Mary Kisler reveals her favourite building
“This building in Albert Park was originally the stables for a grand house on Princes Street that marked the city’s prosperity in the late 19th century. The stables were built in 1883 by Dr Charles Haines and could house at least six horses and two carriages, with tackle and food for the animals (and possibly a stable boy) kept in the loft above. One can imagine a carriage pulling up to the mansion in front to disperse its passengers, before the horses were led past the synagogue into Bowen St and up the service lane.
The form of the building is satisfyingly minimal, its resolute plainness speaking of a different time, yet there is a hint of frivolity in the white brick bands that pick out the tops of the windows, and the swathes of Virginia creeper that cling to the irregular brickwork.
I first became aware of the building as a young woman involved in Jumping Sundays organised by Tim Shadbolt, among others, as part of ongoing protests against the Vietnam War. I’m sure many people had no idea of the little piece of history they were passing as they raced up the hill and joined the crowd. Today, the building houses the Frank Sargeson Centre and the Auckland Art Gallery flat tucked in among the upper eaves, and downstairs is a gallery – but this view from the park gives no clue as to what now lies inside.”