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Earthquake work on landmark building sends gallery packing

Flagstaff Team

Sad to leave… Mike and Linda Geers are moving their gallery from Devonport after 19 years

Another long-standing Devonport business is shutting up shop, but Art by the Sea will reopen in Takapuna rather than be lost to the wider area altogether.

The dealer gallery has occupied its corner site on King Edward Pde for 29 years, being run by Mike and Linda Geers for the last 19.

“We have loved being here, but we have to move because the building has to be earthquake-proofed,” Mike Geers told the Flagstaff.

A final exhibition will open in late February, with the move to Hurstmere Rd (opposite the Bruce Mason Centre, in the old GPK premises) made in April.

“We’ve been supported heavily by the community and will miss Devonport,” said Geers, who hopes former customers will still visit.

Although the gallery had an option from its landlord to move back into the strengthened building, uncertainty about how long the work would take had prompted the reluctant decision to move. Geers said upon learning late last year the gallery would need to move out for six to 12 months, he looked hard for suitable temporary accommodation in Devonport. “The terms were prohibitive,” he said.

Unlike other businesses to have shut in Devonport in recent months, Geers said the loss of tourists was not a driving factor in the decision to relocate.

Although some independent travellers sought out the gallery, visitors were not a main income stream for Art by the Sea. He felt “guilty” about quitting Devonport and its loyal customers when the village faced ongoing quiet times, but it was a necessary business decision.

The move to Takapuna would also take Lake Rd out of the equation. Travelling up and down the choked route had been a problem for some clients, he said.

Geers said he would miss the Devonport community and the gallery’s stunning seaside location.

“People walk through the doors look at the beautiful art and the view of the sea… it’s a respite from the wider world.”

Geers, a Birkenhead resident, hopes the gallery’s final show, by sculptor Joe Kemp, will also serve as a chance to say thank you to Devonport. A powhiri will open the exhibition tomorrow (27 February) and function as a way to “bring the wairua back to the people and place”.

• The gallery was broken into at 12.50am on 14 February. The offenders, who jemmied open the door and broke its lock, appeared to be looking for cash, but none is kept on the premises overnight.

Geers said artworks were untouched, but an expensive camera taken. Police took fingerprints from the scene.

The car of a neighbour two doors down was broken into around the same time.

This article originally appeared in the 26 February 2021 edition of the Flagstaff. Read online here.

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