Art Queenstown

The Ivy Box – New Beginnings

Written by Penny Simpson

Queenstown art gallery The Ivy Box has opened a new chapter thanks to an extensive renovation project that has enhanced its premiere position on Queenstown’s lakefront.

Housed in the town’s original butcher’s shop on Park Street, the building has been restored and expanded by gallery founder and director Lynda Hensman creating a modern gallery as well as artists’ residences. 

“The old building no longer served me. It was freezing and it was time to take it on a new journey and evolve it into a more modern and warm venue for contemporary art. It had been haphazardly renovated over the years and anyone who knows it will attest to it’s cute and quaint appeal. However the exterior was covered in different varieties of ivy and climbing plants that looked vibrant during summer and autumn but what lay underneath was seriously deteriorating.”

As the resident artist Lynda had a clear vision for modernising the building favouring the use of strong concrete forms, exposed steel and extensive glazing to capture sweeping views over Lake Wakatipu.

In 2017 she contacted architect Thom Ibbotson from Yoke and together they collaborated on the concept with Thom leading the project from inception to completion this year.

“ I admired Thom’s fresh ideas and intelligent design approach and the results speak for themselves.  The haphazard 70s and 80s extension has made way for sweeping windows on the upper floor, while the ancient stone walls have been preserved and our famous ivy and Virginia creeper will be lovingly encouraged to grow back – though not through cracks in the windows and cupboards like it did before the renovation.”

“ The use of modern, raw materials juxtaposed with the original stonework is genius. 

The entire build including the new artists’ residences at the back are a total work of art thanks to Thom and the incredible team at Just Build It,” she says.

The Ivy Box has reopened with an aptly named New Beginnings exhibition featuring Lynda’s own works alongside those of other talented contemporary artists including Sue Hartly, Roimata Taimana,  Odelle Morshuis and up-and-coming young artist Hana Coleman. 

“The Ivy Box is still a venue for authentic art that’s created with passion. The artists on board all have the same passionate dedication to their art – they create from the heart and are outside the square in terms of approach and thinking,” says Lynda. “I’ve hand-picked them for that reason.”

“While the landscape outside is beautiful, you won’t find traditional landscape art inside. The new gallery space is home to art that stimulates all the senses – there’s grit, contrast and passion in all of it.”

About the author

Penny Simpson