Chris Currie was a man of magic.

He started his career as a window dresser with a Hamilton furnishing company but fast-tracked to become one of the country's leading exhibition designers, based in Rotorua.

It was a career that led him to being internationally acclaimed in the art and museum worlds and put the Rotorua Museum, where he worked for years, firmly on the map as a must-see.

But the last 10 years were not kind to Currie, who lost his long battle with cancer on December 29.

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It was a battle he never showed as he continued to pour passion into curating museums.

He was 68 when he died.

Chris Currie in 2001 with the Pink and White Bathers which was part of an exhibition entitled Big Bits. Photo / File
Chris Currie in 2001 with the Pink and White Bathers which was part of an exhibition entitled Big Bits. Photo / File

In the late 80s Currie worked at the Rotorua Museum where the "A-Team" was born consisting of his boss, John Perry, and colleagues Ann Somerville and Andrew Warner.

The team were responsible for exhibitions such as Taking the Cure, Elvis in Geyserland and Daughters of the Land.

Ann Somerville said Currie had an "incredible" ability to turn an idea into something magic with generosity and attention to detail.

"You would walk into an exhibition and somebody's art would be looking like a million dollars and it was his very generous way of making it look stunning.

"The exhibitions we produced over that decade were as good as anything and put Rotorua Museum on the world map and Chris was the magic ingredient with his design ability."

Ann Somerville (left), Chris Currie and Andrew Warner dressed in overalls painting the walls for exhibitions. Photo / Supplied
Ann Somerville (left), Chris Currie and Andrew Warner dressed in overalls painting the walls for exhibitions. Photo / Supplied

Somerville thought of her work colleague and friend fondly and thought of herself and others who worked with him as lucky.

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"He was a great storyteller through the way he arranged the words and the pictures and the objects. The museum industry will never find another one like Chris I'm afraid.

"He is out on his own. They might get in consultants and they might pay big money but Chris Currie was in a league of his own."

Chris Currie, (left) Andrew Warner and Ann Somerville while working at the museum. Photo / Supplied
Chris Currie, (left) Andrew Warner and Ann Somerville while working at the museum. Photo / Supplied

Andrew Warner, the technician for the "A-Team", remembers the great adventures the group had collecting art in the back of Currie's kombi.

He said Currie was an incredible designer who was able to walk into a space and change it into something amazing.

"He had this vision of the whole thing which I sometimes had a hard time trying to figure out because he often wouldn't tell you, I would just get told to paint a wall, but he would be able to see the whole picture in his head."

Currie was a big influence to Warner who followed a photography path thanks to Currie's encouragement.

He remembered the Elvis in Geyserland show which was Currie's "swansong" show as he was a big fan of the King of Rock'n Roll.

"We had to paint all this scaffolding and basically this whole exhibition was made around it. It was bloody incredible what we did.

"It was probably the best show that they have ever had at the museum."

Chris Currie with partner Lyndall Hermitage in 2013. Photo / File
Chris Currie with partner Lyndall Hermitage in 2013. Photo / File

Their boss at the time, John Perry, agrees with Warner naming it the most popular exhibition they had at the time.

He said the exhibition and the work that went in behind the scenes was a classic example of Currie.

"He possessed some extremely rare qualities, we were very privileged.

"I had complete and total faith with all the judgements that he made when it came to working with objects. He was able to make it sing."

Rotorua Museum, located in the old Bath House building where Chris Currie worked. Photo / File
Rotorua Museum, located in the old Bath House building where Chris Currie worked. Photo / File

Perry remembers Currie as a fabulous person who was extra-ordinary. He said he was visually literate and had a magic when it came to handling material from the past.

"One day we went down underneath the building and we pulled up all this stuff that was broken and covered in grime.

"Chris just worked his magic with it. He turned it into significant artefacts that told a story. He turned these things that most people would have thrown into a skip, into magic."