Dimensions of the feminine

By Laurel Stowell

Women as sirens, clothes horses, action heroes, she-devils - the All About Eve show at Wanganui's Rayner Brothers' Gallery has at least five different takes on womanhood.
Erin McNamara's four works are collages that she made into dioramas and then photographed. In soft focus, with pastel frames, they show a woman in a cave of jewels (Gemma), a woman among the stars (Stella), a woman with the moon (Pearl).
For her, the images are "like little daydreams, all peace and light" - the opposite of the action-packed 3-D movies she sees in her job at Wanganui's cinema.
The character she created was like a female action hero - but a gentle and mysterious one. Modelled by McNamara and her sister, the woman's face is never shown, and she appears in unexpected places.
"I think she's quite quiet and observant and connected with the spaces she's in. She gets around."
McNamara is in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Whanganui Ucol, majoring in photography and theatre design.
Before coming to Wanganui she spent three years studying theatre design at Toi Whakaari in Wellington, then went to Holland to design a production set on the beach of an offshore island.
The Greek tragedy Antigone was performed on the beach among nine 2m deep pits - sometimes in the water and sometimes out of it. McNamara was so taken with Holland that she stayed on after the production, and came to Whanganui Ucol direct from Amsterdam.
Influenced by family, music, theatre, movies, pop culture and admired artists like Paul Rayner, McNamara said she loved photography.
Her first move after finishing her degree, though, will be a tour of New Zealand with an unnamed band.


The title of the show she's in, All About Eve, was taken from a film about a younger woman's attempt to supplant a fading movie star, gallery co-owner Paul Rayner said.
The three women artists chosen for the show were asked to make work about a female archetype. He and his brother Mark contributed some of their ceramics. Mark made seven she-devils and Paul made a set of honeypots.
Lauren Lysaght, a former Tylee Cottage artist-in-residence, made four pairs of high fashion female shoes out of chateau cardboard wine casks. She gave them titles like Happy Hour and Intoxication.
Former Wanganui artist JK Russ contributed a series of photographs. In them naked women and exotic escapades are superimposed on romantic old landscape paintings.
"They are more like the Garden of Eden, with all that it connotes," Mr Rayner said.
- All About Eve runs until October 30.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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