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NZ's Most Expensive Artwork On Sale

News release from Birkenhead Residents Association

The most expensive artwork ever produced in New Zealand has gone on sale at North Shore’s Lake House Gallery art centre… with a $20 million price tag.

The modern masterpiece – entitled ‘Lake Chelsea Reserve” – has been painted in acrylics by retired professional Birkenhead artist and architect Ken Garrett. The emotive painting measures 900mm by 900mm and depicts a scene of the lake adjoining Chelsea Sugar Refinery. The painting is open to public viewing at the Lake House Gallery in Takapuna.

Ken Garrett chose to paint the stunning vista in protest at Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s proposal to build 528 high-density intensive housing units on the Birkenhead site. The matter is currently before North Shore City Council’s planning review authority – with an overwhelming majority of submissions lodged objecting to the development.

“The reserve around Chelsea Sugar Refinery is a particularly important place for me as an area of outstanding beauty which, as a painter, I feel very strongly about preserving for its aesthetic inspiration,” explained 67-year-old Ken Garrett who lives in Birkenhead.

“I'm often surprised at how few people have ever seen Chelsea Lake or know how beautiful the surrounding native bush and parkland are. We are truly blessed to have such a green space so close to the heart of a major metropolitan city. A $20 million price tag on my painting is no more outrageous than Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s monstrous plan to destroy one of Auckland’s iconic landmarks.”

Should the work sell for $20 million, Ken intends donating part of the proceeds to the Birkenhead Residents Association to continue the organisation’s opposition to the planned intensive housing development Chelsea Sugar Refinery intends for its parkland.

“Yes I could enjoy a life of wealth with a large luxury yacht and a palatial home, but the future of my children, my grand children, and hundreds of thousands of other Aucklanders is far more important than one man’s aspirations to wealth. Perhaps that’s a lesson Chelsea Sugar Refinery should adopt when it considers slicing up this environmentally important city asset,” said Ken.

“For whoever buys this artwork, if Chelsea receives permission to build its seaside ghetto, my painting could be the last view of the lake in its natural pristine condition before the bush and wildlife is obliterated for good.”

The previous sale record for a New Zealand painting is believed to be $4million paid for a Colin McCahon masterpiece.

Lake House Art Gallery curator Kim Boyd confirmed that Ken’s multi-million dollar artwork was by far the most expensive New Zealand painting ever seen in this country. At Lake House Gallery, hangings normally sell for hundreds or occasionally thousands of dollars… but nowhere near millions.

“The $20 million price tag attached to Ken’s painting is in fact an intricate part of the fabric of the artwork itself. This exorbitant statement challenges viewers to question the value of open spaces in this city, and asks what price can be attached to our country’s heritage and our city’s future,” said Kim Boyd.

“One of art’s roles is to challenge our perceptions, and this piece certainly does that. It has created considerable interest among those who have viewed it already.”

The exhibition of Ken’s ‘Lake Chelsea Reserve’ masterpiece continues at the Lake House Gallery until November 26.

ends

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