We like to think there is something magic about the Duke, of course we have the location and history which is a good part of the magic, but it's the details that bring the magic to life. Details like the amazing artwork of Lester Hall that hangs with pride of place throughout the hotel, restaurant, rooms, and hallways . This has been an evolving collaboration with well-known northland artist Lester Hall that started in 2016 and continuous to gown and change in a way any good story should.
The owners first built a relationship with Lester during the development of Charlotte’s Kitchen and it seemed the next natural step was to bring a bit of this magic to The Duke of Marlborough Hotel.
As Lester explains " The Duke of Marlborough hotel has an almost mythological place in the hearts of many and it has, in the past often let those heightened hopes down by simply not presenting in a way that retained the position it holds in folklore or the special place it has on the shores of Kororaeka /Russell.
The artworks and artifacts for this new reign of the Duke have been curated to strongly pursue an excellence and an integrity that will settle in and be a part of that place for many years into the future thereby create the setting in history that the walls of The Duke have always aspired to; this while staying within the sphere of the ordinary that retains the involvement of us all as we enjoy the hospitality and venue the hotel offers.
Many special times have been had in this place and I wanted, in the work I do, to honor the town, the locals and the people who choose to visit with a collection of art and artifacts that present experience of the history and the fun and the stories, tall and true.
The Duke is not a museum, so while I take the delivery of presentation of the town and it's history very seriously, the delivery of my work has allowed me to tidy and repair photos and prints in ways a museum could not and to include a few playfully irreverent items as well. My intent is to try my best to not make the hotel walls feel especially themed.
I also know Russell from my childhood as the magical place where extraordinary big game beasts of the sea were caught by world famous anglers who saw the place as an elderado of the natural… Among all of the actual references to history my personal artworks bring the new translations of Aotearoa New Zealand to the fore.
My Queen of The Fern II artwork was created to celebrate Her Royal Highness amid the historical images of famous luminaries such as Tamati Waka Nene, Hone Heke, and James Cook in the main dining room but this artwork has since been purchased and set on the Walls of the British High Commission in Wellington and for New Zealand's embassy in the Hague as others see the clear referencing of history and the artwork set side by side and that is exactly where I want the collection to stand."
You will often spot people wandering the halls or the restaurant looking at the artwork – reminiscent of a museum but one with much less formality, seriousness, and the need for rules and processes. It's a different and unique way of molding the old and new, starting a conversation and allowing the mind to wander and wonder.
As owners of the Duke, we feel extremely lucky to have built this relationship with Lester and have him join in our journey of bringing back one of Northland's icons to its best self. If you would like to see more of Lester’s artwork please go to his website https://lesterhall.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/LesterHallArtist/ or https://thedukeart.com/. Of course, we would love for you to come and see it for yourself at The Duke! It's never better than in the flesh.
What our customers say
The Duke of Marlborough Hotel won our hearts from day one with their exceptional food and wine. With each visit we were wowed by the extensive menu, but most impressive were the team who work at The Duke. They are warm, hospitable and fun, and experts at what they do. Having expert advice from Ida with the wedding plans was invaluable; she is a wealth of local knowledge and creative ideas, making it a fun and stress free process. The magical setting of Russell gave us endless options for our service and photos, and it was fantastic to have the Duke's beautiful veranda as a very attractive 'plan' for the ceremony in case of rain (which is rare in Russell).Our day went seamlessly and we can't recommend the Duke enough. We are thrilled to be part of the Duke family for life, and look forward to many return trips to visit our new friends in this jewel of the Bay of Islands.
- Rebecca & Dave, 9 April 2016Read More Reviews