The Nita Gini Collection - the Crown Lynn story

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Media Release: June, 2010. 

A new look at an old favourite at City Gallery Wellington

Artist Lauren Lysaght gives Crown Lynn a low-tech twist in her new exhibition The Nita Gini Collection, which opens in the Hirschfeld Gallery on June 26. Crown Lynn holds a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders, and in this exhibition Lauren Lysaght celebrates the nostalgic appeal of the swan vase, the crown emblem and Crown Lynn’s 1960s ‘Roydon Tiny Tots’ nurseryware series.

The Nita Gini Collection represents an individual response to the Crown Lynn story familiar to many New Zealanders. The exhibition adopts a brassy, mischievous and distinctly homemade aesthetic to consider objects we often call ‘precious’, in a new and extremely colourful light. Lauren Lysaght’s installation presents a unique gathering of ‘Crown Lynn’ objects, drawing on her grandmother Nita Gini’s collection. These objects have all been created by the artist using cardboard, plaster of Paris and an array of other craft and found materials. Lysaght has also created plinths and display furniture for the exhibition, using highly theatrical materials including fake leopard skin fabric, wood veneer and a range of found items.

Many of the pieces take a bizarre or macabre spin on familiar Crown Lynn items. The swans are chained together like giant ‘bling’ lockets; the crown emblem has taken on three dimensions and grown riotously decorative; the nursery series of Roydon Tiny Tots are represented on series of urns which could contain the ashes of departed cats. Distinctive Crown Lynn designs take on a new life: dinner plate patterns become a floral beaded curtain, the crown emblem becomes three dimensional, and a polar bear bookend motif becomes a wall-mounted trophy. With its candyfloss pink walls, fake animal skins and fur, wood veneer and bright white creations, this is more than an exhibition – it is an experience.

Lauren Lysaght is a self-taught New Zealand artist who deliberately adopts a nontraditional style. Working across multiple disciplines, Lysaght often uses 'low-rent', basic materials that might be found at a $2 shop to create provocative works directing attention to significant personal issues and social injustices including disability, aging, poverty, and mental illness. Lysaght’s work is also playful, as in the recent Life Coaching series of magnificent hearses exhibited at Whitespace, Auckland. Lysaght is represented by Mary Newton Gallery, Wellington, and Whitespace, Auckland. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections including Te Papa Tongarewa and the Chartwell Collection.

With the support of the Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians.

The Nita Gini Collection: Lauren Lysaght

26 June – 15 August 2010

Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington