Henderson House, Alexandra

This is my home for the next year. It’s a house designed by Austrian architect Ernst Plischke, in 1950. A couple from Alexandra, here in Central Otago, Russell & Barbara Henderson, commissioned him to design them this home on some land over the river, the mighty Clutha, overlooking the town.

Russell Henderson died in 1998 and Barbara Henderson is now in a rest home nearby. Every Tuesday she visits her studio that she maintains in a separate building on the three acres that this house sits on.

Philanthropists, they set up a trust so that this house can be used by artists who would like to come to live here for a specified period of time. There are no limits on media. The first resident was Vincent O’Sulllivan, writer. I am the second.

This residency cannot be applied for. It is offered along with a generous allowance.

Plischke lived in New Zealand from 1939 until 1963 when he returned to Austria. He died in 1992.

The house is made from stone that was cut from the site. The louvres visible in the photo help with ventilation, very necessary in Central Otago which has the highest (and the lowest) temperatures in New Zealand.