‘That tiny fibrolite dwelling, set in the subsistence garden that Frank cultivated like a small farm, became a literary kingdom entirely without guards or frontiers and where the only cards of identity were books’.
-Under the Bridge & Over the Moon, Kevin Ireland-
Writer Frank Sargeson lived at 14 Esmonde Road, Takapuna from 1931 until his death in 1982. Here he created a literary oasis where writers lived, worked and partied. It has been said that this was where New Zealand literature was born. The little fibrolite bach located on Esmonde Road, once a quiet backwater, but now (from the 1950s onwards) a congested on-ramp for the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The Sargeson Swerve brings together a collection of Sargeson’s artefacts from his infamous bach, paintings of the bach interior by artist Graham Downs, as well as sculpture, film, photographs and of course, Sargeson’s books.
The exhibition examines Sargeson’s influence on the development of New Zealand literature as it played out against the backdrop of Esmonde Road and the ever expanding city of Auckland. Even after Frank’s death the story continued. During later road construction, allowance had to be made for Frank’s ashes scattered in the front garden of the house. This was known to the traffic engineers as, ‘The Sargeson Swerve’.
The Sargeson Swerve is on display from Saturday September 30 – Monday November 6 in the Vernacular Lounge, Depot Artspace and is part of the Auckland Heritage Festival 2017