Public Record has been a welcome addition to Auckland’s arts and crafts scene since opening its doors on Ponsonby Road between lockdowns in 2020. The store and gallery celebrates artisanal mastery with its selection of homewares, artworks, clothing and decorative objects – crafted by makers from Aotearoa and Japan.
Now, founder and director Yuka O’Shannessy has shifted Public Record just a few doors away from her previous space, to a larger store with more room to introduce new artists and makers.
O’Shannessy came to Aotearoa from Japan more than twenty years ago and has been involved in art and design ever since. From the start, her vision has been to represent artists and makers who use raw materials and traditional processes to create works that stand the test of time.
She seeks out timelessness – Public Record’s philosophy “transcends trends and seasonality”, resisting “what is disposable and temporary”.
The new space is right next door to vintage furniture store Flotsam & Jetsam and consists of two floors and several small rooms, each curated for a different feel.
Downstairs in the main space, the walls are painted in O’Shannessy’s signature charcoal black (as was the previous store), for a serene, otherworldly effect. Down the back, there’s a smaller room where changing light streams through a window, illuminating various pieces including ceramic dishes, lampshades and tiny brass incense holders.
The upstairs gallery spaces showcase monthly exhibitions and are painted a soft, pale grey to feel light and airy. In the largest upstairs gallery, which overlooks Western Park, there’s currently a collaborative exhibition titled Gutter Silk, Peeling Iron showcasing the works of Lyttelton-based artisans Paige Jansen, Emma Wallbanks and Ella Van Beynen.
The trio travelled to Japan in July and were inspired by traditional Japanese craft. They have produced sculptures, photography, weavings, textiles and garments incorporating this influence.
The interior of the new space was designed and built by Yuka O’Shannessy and her husband Tristan O’Shannessy. “We were conscientious of the history of the building (built in the 1890s) and respectful of that, but wanted to give it a new take and inject Public Record’s aesthetic and craft values into the space,” says O’Shannessy. “It was our intention for each space to have discovery, with interesting pockets everywhere.”
Cross-cultural connections are important to O’Shannessy, reinforcing her unique gallery concept and vision; she considers both Japan and Aotearoa home. “Public Record is a place and space for cultural exchanges... As well as representing Japanese artists in New Zealand and offering workshops on Japanese traditional crafts, Public Record also represents New Zealand artists in Japan. We are excited about the possibilities for new understandings of traditional practices and hope to expand on this, working with more artists and makers globally.”
There’s a sense of discovery throughout Public Record – and O’Shannessy’s singular aesthetic is just as inspiring within your own space as it is in situ.
82 Ponsonby Road, Auckland
Weds to Sun 10am–4pm
Anita Tótha is an art consultant working between New York and Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.