Family connections and art are two passions for local artist Sue Gordon - so this weekend she is combining the two in a exhibition of portraits of 25 Te Awamutu people.

A keen artist, Mrs Gordon expanded into portrait painting when she and husband Brian returned home to Te Awamutu a few years ago.

It started when Mrs Gordon joined the Te Awamutu Genealogy Group and was asked who she was researching.

When she mentioned her great-grandfather Joseph Bathurst, another member said she had already researched some of that line.


Joseph Bathurst was a founding member of the Waipa Masonic Lodge and owned the Commercial Hotel.

His wife Julia owned and operated Ivanhoe Boarding House.

The genealogy colleague had gained permission and copied the Masonic Lodge photograph of Mr Bathurst for her research, and loaned that to Mrs Gordon, who decided to paint his portrait.

It was just a few weeks later, in April 2013, that a fire destroyed a large part of Waipa Lodge - including a number of the historic photos.

Fast forward to March this year, and the Gordons were contemplating a project to both raise funds for worthy causes and promote Mrs Gordon's art.

The answer was the 25 Faces of Te Awamutu project - painting portraits of 25 Te Awamutu people from various walks of life and making them available for sale.

Half the proceeds will be split 50/50 between St John Ambulance and Hospice Waikato - the other half will cover the expense of oils, boards and frames.

Mr Gordon approached candidates and secured photographs for his wife to work from.


He says no-one said no to being painted - that includes me.

It was impossible not to agree when I looked at the links between me and the Gordons.

My wife is a genealogy colleague of the artist and my mother used to board with Mr Gordon's family when she first came to Te Awamutu as a young woman.

Mrs Gordon says portraits of family members used to be popular - and could be again.

She says it is a way to preserve family memories and create a heirloom piece of art.

She is keen to take commissions from people wanting to have portraits painted.

The 25 Faces of Te Awamutu exhibition is this weekend at the Te Awamutu Library Community Room.

It opens to invited guests on Friday night and to the public on Saturday and Sunday 10am-3pm.