Kia ora folks,


I have known the "Duke Hotel", the shores of Kororareka/Russell and the waters of Ipipiri, Bay of Islands for much of my life but more intimately when I lived "out back road" of Russell in Waipiro Bay for a decade and since then Kerikeri at the other side of the bay.


My earlier work has taken me through thousands of hours of work in places like the Auckland Institute and Museum which gave me a layman's understanding of our history and the extraordinary artifacts which make up the identity of this region and others through Aoteroa New Zealand and the Pacific.


My affinity with Kororareka Russell is also created in my love of the sea and sailing and I know the local waters very well from long days in all weather, often pitching myself against the odds on my race cats.


The Duke of Marlborough hotel has an almost mythological place in the hearts of many and it has, in the past often let those heightened hopes down by simply not presenting in a way that retained the position it holds in folk lore or the special place it has on the shores of Kororaeka/Russell.


The artworks and artifacts for this new reign of the Duke have been curated to strongly pursue an excellence and an integrity that will settle in and be a part of that place for many years into the future thereby create the setting in history that the walls of The Duke have always aspired to; this while staying within the sphere of the ordinary that retains the involvement of us all as we enjoy the hospitality and venue the hotel offers.


I have been privileged to be a part of this latest chapter in the hotel's long life, enjoying the commitment of Jayne, Bridget, Riki and Anton and their partner Paul in their exciting and highly energized effort to embolden the life of a wonderful legacy in this little town where history has often been made.


Many special times have been had in this place and I wanted, in the work I do, to honor the town, the locals and the people who choose to visit with a collection of art and artifacts that present an experience of the history and the fun and the stories, tall and true.


The Duke is not a museum, so while I take the delivery of presentation of the town and it's history very seriously, the delivery of my work has allowed me to tidy and repair photos and prints in ways a museum could not and to include a few playfully irreverent items as well. My intent is to try my best to not make the hotel walls feel especially themed.


I also know Russell from my childhood as the magical place where extraordinary big game beasts of the sea were caught by world famous anglers who saw the place as an elderado of the natural… Among all of the actual references to history my personal artworks bring the new translations of Aotearoa New Zealand to the fore.


My Queen of The Fern II artwork was created to celebrate Her Royal Highness amid the historical images of famous luminaries such as Tamati Waka Nene, Hone Heke, and James Cook in the main dining room but this artwork has since been purchased and set on the Walls of the British High Commission in Wellington and for New Zealand's embassy in the Hague as others see the clear referencing of history and the artwork set side by side and that is exactly where I want the collection to stand.


And so, here, on line are these works presented to enjoy and purchase but I also recommend a stay or a visit to this wonderful establishment run by people looking to create even more special memories, not simply because I am in a partnership with the owners but because truly I love "This wonderful Bay of Islands" and know that it is a very hard place to beat if time out is needed.


nga mihi


Lester Hall