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House Visits: Bay Dreamin'

You'd expect the home of gallery owners to contain inspirational pieces, and this Tauranga property doesn't disappoint.


The days of visiting galleries and exhibitions are temporarily on hold. The lost opportunity to get motivation from walking through new spaces and soaking in different works is a void The Big Idea wants to help fill. 

Our ‘House Visits’ series takes you into the homes and working spaces of people in the creative world, to see what they have collected on their travels, what it means to them and what they’re using as inspiration inside their own four walls.

Dan du Bern - Tauranga

I live here in Tauranga with my wife, Courtney Lucas, and our two sons, Oscar (eight) and Gene (six). 18 months ago we opened Sumer, a commercial gallery, with the intention of providing local collectors and the art-interested with greater access to high-quality contemporary art; and also to provide an alternate representative voice for the artists we choose to work with: working with them to create high-quality presentations and to promote their work at a national and international level also.

Since lockdown, we have been kept surprisingly busy. We’ve been partly occupied with fixing things around the house which we had been putting off. We’ve also been doing an array of disgustingly wholesome family activities including crafting, baking, playing board games, building forts, riding bikes and going for walks exploring the neighbourhood. Courtney and the boys have also been focused on their homeschooling for the past couple of weeks. 

And while our physical doors are currently closed, the gallery has nevertheless kept me very busy. The lockdown has thrown us a bunch of new challenges and this has meant a lot of time has been spent communicating with our artists, both here and overseas. I’ve also been making improvements to our site to better promote their work. And in the past two weeks, I’ve been busily preparing for our digital presentation of new work by Ann Shelton and Ella Sutherland at Auckland Art Fair’s Virtual Art Fair, which opens this week. We are very much looking forward to this as the works of both artists are really terrific!

The Tour Begins

In terms of the objects around the house which we are finding inspiring, it was hard to settle on just a few. We are immensely privileged to have a home where there are artworks in every room; things which inspire us on a daily basis. And when I asked the family we all gave different answers. Gene’s choice was Jess Johnson’s Subspace and Aftercare, a print which hangs in his room. This intricate work with its radiating fan of fairground heads almost vibrates, recalling Jess’s equally elaborate and bizarre video and VR work. We all loved seeing these when they were shown here last year.

Courtney selected Henry Curchod’s The second to last yawn, a large colourful painting which hangs in our living room. It’s a curious dream-like work which melds an array of seemingly contradictory symbols, some morbid and foreboding, others joyful and sweet. Courtney considers it as something, “calming and transportive”.

Another recent favourite is a small vessel by Nichola Shanley, Resting Hands, which we acquired last year. This little pot with its three inverted monkey heads sits on the top of a low bookshelf in our living room too. Like many of Nichola’s works, it is a beautiful grotesquerie. Everything about this thing is lovely: its elegant but rough-hewn sculptural form, its matte slip-covered exterior and dark glossy interior, the quiet and restful monkey faces and the strange grotto-like trough at its base. A lovely thing indeed.

Dan du Bern.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

28 Apr 2020

The Big Idea Editor