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Barry Brickell memorial stage opening ceremony as part of the Coromandel Illume festival

13 July 2018

Coromandel Town has a double celebration this weekend, in conjunction with its Illume Festival of Lights, there is also the official opening of the Barry Brickell memorial stage.

The stage situated in the Hauraki Reserve at 230 Kapanga Road, will be lit up as part of the Illume Festival over the weekend, while the official ribbon-cutting ceremony happens at 2:00 pm Saturday afternoon.

Barry Brickell Memorial Stage

Master of ceremonies, Peter Lange, a long-time friend of the late Barry Brickell, along Mike Noonan from Driving Creek Railway and representatives from Council and the Coromandel-Colville Community Board, will be on hand to officially open the stage.  There is a bronze plaque to be laid at the centre of the stage, followed by a performance from local artist Mac Pakinga, live on the new stage. 

Local artists added their flair to the project.  The original artistic concept was from local artist John Madden and realized by Thames-Based Architect Rob Johnston, while Driving Creek Railway's Pete Sephton added his touch to the finishing of the concrete work.

Driving Creek Railway has also donated 12 small gauge train wheels that have been incorporated into the stage design, complete with LED lighting all ready to be a part of the Illume festival this weekend.

Who was Barry Brickell?

Mr Brickell was born in New Plymouth in 1935 and grew up in Auckland. He developed a passion for pottery at an early age, but studied science at university before, briefly becoming a teacher in Coromandel Town. 

He soon left teaching to become a full-time potter and in 1974 he purchased a property to open his pottery studio and pursue his lifelong fascination with railways, which is reflected in his unique tourist attraction 'Driving Creek Railway' where his railway and pottery studio now stand.

In 1975 he began laying railway track to transport firewood and the yellow clay used in his pottery from all over the 22 hectare property, back to his studio.  Then in 1990, he obtained a licence to transport fare paying passengers on his railway network.  Today the Driving Creek Railway operates two, one hour return trips a day, for passengers and this number increases in the summer holiday period.

In 1988 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to pottery.  He wrote several books on pottery and on the Driving Creek Railway. His pottery has been collected by art galleries, the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, Tongarewa and is also on display in parliament buildings.

Thames Library has one of Barry's most interesting works, and everyone is welcome to come in and view it currently on display at the Thames Civic Centre.

Photo from Thames LIbrary

You can also see Barry at work in this YouTube video by Kate Whitley on the Dowse Art Museum's cahnnel here.

For more of Barry Brickell's work see

Coromandel Town's Illume Festival of Lights

For two nights, the Illume festival will be lighting up the main street of Coromandel Town.  This is a free, family festival, with live music, projections, street performers, lights, food, fun and laughter.  Check out some highlights below and for more information go to their website.

Illume: Winter Festival of Light

Friday July 13th
Kapanga Road Closed: 5:30pm – 8.30pm.  From Library to Assay House
5.00 pm to 8.30 pm   Night Market. With delicious food and tasty treats, homemade goodies and more
6:30pm Twisty Twins at Hauraki House Magnolia Tree
7:00pm Pimp my Ride lit bicycle procession
Live Music at Pepper Tree

Saturday July 14th
Kapanga Road Closed 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm
5.00 pm to 8.30 pm   Night Market
6.00 pm Town Parade
6.30 pm PowerCo Fireworks. Massive fireworks display to blow your socks off.
5:00 pm to Late - Glow Worm - DJ’s warming up the winter night in the middle of town.
7.00pm – Band at Peppertree & Star and Garter
4:00pm to 6.00pm Kidzone at Hauraki House