Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Sargeson Swerve

In September and October this year there was an exhibition called ‘The Sargeson Swerve: A Literary Life on Esmonde Road’ on at the Depot Artspace in Devonport. This was part of the Auckland Heritage Festival 2017.


Writer Frank Sargeson lived at 14 Esmonde Road 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.
Once located in a quiet backwater, the little fibrolite bach on Esmonde Road was later overrun by a congested onramp for the Auckland Harbour Bridge from the 1950's.

Using artefacts such as the quilt made for Sargeson by Janet Frame, paintings of the bach interior by Graham Downs, sculpture, film, images and writing, this exhibition examines Sargeson’s influence on the development of New Zealand literature played out against the backdrop of Esmonde Road and the expanding city.
Even after Frank’s death the story continued. During later road widening, 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’.

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