Story: Arts and social engagement

'Vacant lot of cabbages'

'Vacant lot of cabbages'

In 1978 Wellington artist Barry Thomas (pictured) created this installation, 'Vacant lot of cabbages' (also known as ‘The cabbage patch’). Using the site of the demolished Roxy theatre, he planted 180 cabbage seedlings to form the word 'cabbage'. Thomas was protesting at the lack of a central-city park and the intended use of the site for another mundane commercial building. He challenged Wellingtonians to make the space their own. His call captured the public imagination and the site was filled with all kinds of objects, including a fluorescent pink tricycle, an IBM computer (plugged into the cabbage patch) and a lounge suite. For several months the urban garden hosted informal gatherings and events. The installation culminated in a week-long arts festival, The Last Roxy Show, which included poetry readings, performance and the distribution of free coleslaw. Soon after, Dukes Arcade was built on the site.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: CA001114/001/0023

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How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Arts and social engagement - Criticising society', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 August 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 22 Oct 2014