Kutarere is a tiny town on the southern edge of Ōhiwa Harbour, on the Bay of Plenty coast. It was here that Nelson Lysaght, a butcher by trade, would travel for holidays with his daughter Lauren. They would get up early to watch the dawn together.
It is from these happy times with her dad that Lauren Lysaght drew the inspiration for “Kutarere Sunrise”, a nostalgic tribute to her early life.
With this exhibition, Lysaght invites us to share her father’s world. It is filled with objects from her father’s world – a place of meat cleavers, of strings of Polony sausages, butchers’ aprons and sharp knives – yet she has put her own unique spin on them, because it was her world too.
For the cleavers are made not of steel, but soft and forgiving fabrics in pink and gold, detailed with brocade. The strings of sausages are sewn, stitched and draped luxuriously across the wall. Every gold medal is an intricate rosette of bright textiles. Lysaght has taken a traditionally male-dominated trade and, with a knowing wink, imagined it through the lens of “women’s work”.
Accompanying “Kutarere Sunrise” is another work by Lysaght, an installation in bold black and white. “Trifecta” takes us to the races, its surfaces are covered in the ever-whimsical names of racehorses, and objects sculpted from discarded TAB tickets. But a bridge to nowhere and a fairy-tale carriage make clear that the world of gambling is one of make-believe and false promises.
Lysaght created the installation in 2004, in memory of her late maternal grandfather, who was a successful horse breeder from Marton. She donated it to Te Manawa in 2012. It is exhibited now for the first time in Manawatū.
“Kutarere Sunrise” and “Trifecta” are both on display in the Art Gallery until 21 November, 10am to 5pm daily. Entry to the gallery is free.