Our Artwork

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

My husband Scott and I got married at The Duke on 15th Feb 2020. This is the perfect venue for a wedding and the staff have been incredible through everything. From our initial inquiry the wedding co-coordinator Ida Birch was amazing. She was so easy to get in contact with and made planning the wedding so seamless. They offered so many great choices for food, drink and accommodation. Always available for meetings and catch ups and always steering you in the right direction to make sure you're picking the best options for your day. Ida was so helpful with things from our wedding timings, making sure our bridesmaids had platters sent to the room when we were getting ready, having our favorite cocktails provided for our top table and giving the manager on duty a thorough handover for how we wanted the day to go. Diane who managed our accommodation was also superb. I honestly can't keep track of all the emails I sent for room changes and Diane was always so speedy updating everything with no stress. The Duke also offers great rates for wedding guests ???? Which brings me on to Ellie and The Duke staff! I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to help set the room up for dinner but they set it up exactly how I imagined it and literally everything was perfect. Having worked in hospitality for about 7 years I can be quite an annoying person to look after at events and there is literally nothing I could fault with the team. The food was INCREDIBLE, every guest had nothing but great things to say about the meals and the canapes. Everyone loved that they could order off a menu rather than having to pre order months in advance. The drinks were always topped up, communication with staff was great letting us know bar tab amounts etc. It can be difficult letting a team of people run your wedding but I had zero stress on the day, they made everything so perfect. Scott and I are so thankful to everyone at The Duke for making our wedding so special. You have been an exceptional team to work with and we hope to see you all again soon for some anniversary celebrations! Lots of Love Charlotte and Scott Taylor ??

- Charlotte & Scott Taylor 15th February 2020,

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