All children have an insatiable, inquisitive appetite and are naturally curious. But growing up, it’s one of those things that most of us, sadly, start to suppress. The ability gets lost in translation, drowning in school systems and formal education revolving around giving you the right answers, instead of making you ask the right questions. However, it’s one of the most important, pure qualities to cultivate throughout your life, even when you’re sitting in a rocking chair, grey and old – it’ll keep you rocking for a long time still! Why? Because it’s the powerful drive inside of you that keeps you in motion. It keeps you motivated to learn and discover new paths. It ignites your creativity, seeking out answers and solutions to all the questions life and the universe brings forth and is basically the foundation of all innovation.
Luckily artist Blair Sommerville never lost his curiosity growing up. Hidden in the heart of the Catlins in the far south of New Zealand he has created a major magnet for the curious, a hidden gem, an anomaly like no other: the Lost Gypsy Gallery. I’ve always been fascinated by out-of-the-ordinary, odd and quirky attractions around the world and stepping inside Blair’s gypsy bus is like tumbling down the rabbit hole. With imagination, humor and creativity he has made the world’s largest collection of rustic automata. In his own words:
“My aim here is to reward the curious, to offer a creative place of wonder, beauty, gadgets and gizmos, made mostly from natural or recycled materials that will warm the heart of even the most cynical. An antidote to consumerism.”
The 1st object that catches your attention, coming in from the main road.
The 2nd one brings a smile upon your face.
The 3rd one sets the tone.
Walking into the front yard, things start to get really weird.
The entrance to the Gypsy Bus.
Can you guess what happens when pressing the button?
Blair’s sense of humor, with a twist of truth, clearly shines through on this sign.
Inside the bus you can’t help feeling nostalgic seeing an old, classic game like this.
And this one is even more old school.
Penguins on Parade.
Humor is a big part of the gallery.
And Blair obviously has a thing for clocks.
There’s so much to look at in the bus, that you easily lose track of time.
If you don’t find the right speed to turn the LP around, people will think you’re communicating with extraterrestrial life!
Music is what makes the world go round.
Even looking up at the ceiling, you’ll find things that you thought were extinct.
And morbid discoveries like this baby, that can turn its head 360 degrees!
Interactive and fun. Press a button and they will perform!
The front of the bus.
If you’re still curious after exploring the bus, you can head on to the backyard.
In case you were wondering…
Nothing is sacred here. But what can you expect from Darth Vader?
However, compared to this man, Darth Vader is a Good Samaritan.
Most of the pieces of art in the backyard are interactive.
At the end of another flight of stairs, you encounter a small gallery,
Where Blair’s sense of humor shines through again.
A prime example: Pinocchio’s awkward adolescence.
The 3rd best way to end your visit to the Lost Gypsy Gallery is a jam session on the piano here.
The 2nd best is to enjoy a coffee made with love.
However, the absolute best way to finish your visit at the Lost Gypsy Gallery is a game of Table Soccer.
How to get there?
Get on what is called the “Southern Scenic Route” on New Zealand’s South Island, which you can start either from Dunedin or Invercargill. This beautiful drive takes you through the wild Catlin Coast with amazing waterfalls, lush forests, lonely beaches with windswept trees and loads of marine mammals. At some point you’ll reach a small rural town called Papatowai and BOOM!! There you got it, the Lost Gypsy Gallery. Now, what are you waiting for?
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”