Organic mechanic and tinkerer
Blair Somerville made his first automata more than 20 years ago. He was cleaning out a Pūpū Karikawa (Cooks Turban Shell) when it made a curious little sound.
“What will happen if I turn it?” he wondered. A little wire here, a twist of the pliers there plus a few choice words and voilà! The infamous gurgler was born.
Since then, Blair has hand-crafted hundreds if not thousands of automata ranging in size and design. Each piece is made from recycled and found objects and invites you to engage and play, as if you were a kid again.
"Blair is slightly puckish and very twinkly." Sarah Bond, Travel Writer
Blair is a self-taught tinkerer who loves messing about with electronics, a hobby that began at school. The now defunct electronic store Dick Smith used to publish mini guides on "how to make stuff" which Blair ate up.
He is happy to report that his skills have not progressed much further.
Rewarding the curious since 1999
The Lost Gypsy Gallery opened in 1999 inside an old Leyland house bus, which has undergone multiple transformations and at least 10 coats of paint.
Since then, Blair has obsessively filled the bus with his automata creations, donated curios and personal memorabilia.
A few years later, Blair widened his vision to include a seperate three-room theatre built and installed behind the bus. It opened in 2008 and features larger, more experimental pieces.
From roadside to the theatre, you will find an assortment of interactive automata and rustic sculptures that will have you chortling in no time.
"A cross between art gallery, curiosity shop, ultimate recycling tutorial and mad scientist's den." Vailskiier22
What makes Blair tick? Watch Lost & Found to find out
"I've picked a very interesting character. He's a very talented guy and a nice guy - he's quintessentially Kiwi." Joey Bania, Filmmaker