Auckland bar frames hole punched in men's toilet wall as 'Fragile Masculinity', becomes viral hit online

The Lumsden Freehouse's 'Fragile Masculinity' art piece.
'Fragile Masculinity', unknown artist, 2018. Photo credit: The Lumsden Freehouse

An Auckland bar has turned an act of vandalism into an artwork that's earning itself thousands of fans around the world.

A hole was punched in the wall of the men's toilet at The Lumsden Freehouse around 18 months ago - but instead of plastering it over, it was framed and given the title 'Fragile Masculinity', by Artist Unknown.

The damage was turned into an artwork by Lucie Campbell, operations manager of The Lumsden and Save Ferris, who had no idea it would become so popular.

The Lumsden Freehouse's 'Fragile Masculinity' art piece.
Photo credit: The Lumsden Freehouse

"One Monday morning I came into work and discovered a hole in the gents wall. I had a genuine eye-roll moment and decided to make light of it with a picture frame and caption while I sourced quotes to fix it," Campbell told Newshub.

"After seeing it posted on social media, I realised it was taken in good humour and so decided to leave it there. Obviously, after 18 months, someone with a very large Twitter following tweeted it and now it's just gone crazy."

That Twitter user was Canadian Josh McConnell, whose tweet of 'Fragile Masculinity' has amassed nearly 70,000 retweets and 315,000 likes in just a few days.

That, in turn, saw the artwork get coverage on international websites including Lad Bible and Pedestrian.

Louis Hanson glowingly reported on 'Fragile Masculinity' for Pedestrian, claiming it had restored their "faith in humanity".

"What I love most is that, if this was in The Louvre, it'd genuinely be heralded as a masterpiece," said Hanson.

"People [would be queuing] up for hours, just to catch a glimpse of the tears, to gawk at its subtle yet profound strength, and then to walk away, unpacking the flaws of the human male ego."

Campbell says the new interest in the piece has created a lot of discussion online, and not all of it has been positive.

"It's mainly still positive feedback; however, just don't read the comments... I read a few and there were definitely a few fragile egos out there!"

She also still does not know who the 'artist' she collaborated with is as they haven't come forward.

"It genuinely could have been an accident or someone having a bad day. Unfortunately, in the world of hospitality, we experience damage to property on the regular."

'Fragile Masculinity' isn't the only bit of fun The Lumsden Freehouse has had in its toilets.

A recent Instagram post from the bar shows a sign taped to a hand dryer telling customers it was voice-activated and that they should "state 'request hit air' in a loud and clear voice to operate'."