Cary Cochrane is the owner of Auckland’s Flagstaff Galley and co-founder of Eden Park’s inaugural Art in the Park event. She lives in Devonport with her husband Doug and two pugs, Bonnie and Scrappy. The couple has two adult children, Hattie and 20-year-old Angus.
Cary: Doug moved to New Zealand for his job in 2014, seven months before the kids and I came over. So he bought this house before I’d even seen it.
This is the sixth country we’ve lived in. Doug and I are both from London and his job with Tesco supermarket moved us to Hungary for four years, then Turkey for three years, Shanghai for a year, Beijing for 2.5 years and Tokyo for a year.
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, so we moved back to London. But Angus was diagnosed with epilepsy a year later so we moved to the Cotswolds for a less stressful lifestyle for him. We lived in a farmhouse built in 1604 set in 3ha which is completely different to this house.
When we flew to Auckland for an initial visit, the re-locator showed us different suburbs but we fell in love with Devonport – it’s so close to the city but it’s got a really tight-knit community feel.
The re-locator was horrified at the thought of us living on the North Shore and Doug having to drive every day to his job near the airport. But he was used to commuting in London, so it didn’t bother him.
This house was built in 1907 but was added to in the 80s, so it was tired and very 80s. We didn’t expect to have to demolish 80 per cent of it, but once we started the builders found cracks and decay so we had to re-pile and start again.
We could have bought a house already done up, but this house has the most spectacular view of Rangitoto, which is what really sold us on it.
This house is also about the art. When we lived in Izmir I opened Turkey’s first dedicated English language bookstore which also sold arts and crafts. It’s where my interest in art started.
When we got to New Zealand I was keen to get into the art world so when the Flagstaff Gallery came up for sale six years ago, I jumped at it. The gallery is 28 years old, and I love that I can carry on the tradition of curating predominantly NZ-based artists.
It was through a causal conversation with Nick Sautner, CEO of Eden Park, that prompted Doug, my co-director Sofija Matich and myself to form the first Art in the Park event in partnership with Eden Park. We’ll have 105 artists showing their work, including some amazing up-and-coming artists.
Most of our art collection has travelled though several countries with us.
We visited the Terracotta Warriors several times when we lived in China, so we bought a replica which is made from clay from the same region as the actual warriors. The framed hand-stitched 200-year-old jacket on the wall was given to Doug when we lived in Shanghai.
I spotted the red sculpture on the piano at an art fair in Beijing in 2007. There were eight of them in different colours. I bought the red one because it represents China to me. A buyer from New York’s MoMA bought the purple one. Every item in our house, whether art of furniture, has a story and that’s what makes them so special.
Our son Angus is now in Wellington where he’s studying architecture and Hattie works in advertising in Auckland. She moved out five months ago and some people might wonder why two empty nesters would need a five-bedroom house, but we constantly have friends and family staying. When the borders were open, we would have friends from all over the world turning up to stay anywhere from a long weekend to five weeks. So we really need those extra bedrooms!
The open-plan kitchen and dining is on the first level. We entertain a lot, so we wanted a practical, open space where guests can congregate while we cook.
Probably the scariest part of our whole renovation was watching the Brazilian granite counter-top being lowered into the space by a crane. There was quite a long wait to get it, and I was terrified they were going to drop it and I’d have to start all over again.
Art in the Park is on at Auckland’s Eden Park from 23-25 July. Visit www.artinthepark.co.nz.
Watch as 100 artists prepare to display their work at Art in the Park.
For the first time since 2017, the work of Tim Wilson will be exhibited outside of his Queenstown gallery.