• Saligia Art Gallery

Boat Shed Cafe battered and bruised

boat shed cafe Nelson NZ storm, saligia art gallery
Nikki Romney's dramatic oil painting of the Boat Shed Cafe based on a photo she took during last February's big storm.

It was a year ago this week, and Nelson's iconic Boat Shed Cafe was being bashed to bits.

A king tide, heavy rain and a 4m storm surge combined for a devastating strike on the hugely popular waterfront destination.

Rampant waves smashing up against the historic rock wall had nowhere to go but through the Boat Shed floor and out through the front wall. For a time the cafe-restaurant looked as though it would be lifted completely off its piles and littered in broken pieces around the Haven and Tasman Bay.

We live across the road from the restaurant and, as the surging tide grew under an ominous grey sky, we were in no doubt about the potential threat to the cafe and nearby neighbour the Boat House.

With police closing the road it was obvious that media access to the waterfront would be closed, and so we snapped videos and photos of the event and sent them off to our local newspaper. (The Nelson Mail used one of them next day on its front page).

With water surging across the road Nikki went out in bare feet to continue snapping photos as the storm reached its zenith, and she tripped in a metal grill in a gutter, broke her toe and dropped the camera.

The Canon was destroyed but we eventually recovered the memory stick and the photo the above painting is based on was among the photographic gems.

While Nikki had vowed six years ago never to paint another landscape, the historic significance made this different - and rules are made to be broken, yes?

Her painting sold on Saligia Art Gallery & Studio's opening weekend but we do have archival quality digital-glicee copies of the work - limited to a run of just five - with only two left.

Call in for a chat - and tell us if you can spot the artistic tweak she has given to the work.

PS: To their credit the business and building owners got straight back on to their feet after the devastating blow and now the business is back better than ever.

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