Lauren Joan Lysaght's latest exhibition was inspired by the pseudo science of phrenology.

Olde Lumpy is showing at the Rayner Brothers Gallery until October 2. It features model heads adorned by strange lumps, which are made of anything from walnut shells to crystals.

The idea for the exhibition when Ms Lysaght came across a quote by author L. N. Fowler explaining the value of phrenology - a pseudo science popular in the 19th century, which was based on the concept that a person's personality could be determined by the shape of their skull.

"I thought it was rubbish," Ms Lysaght said.


"But people didn't question it back then, just as people these days don't question things they should."

The heads are made of Ms Lysaght's "secret recipe", covered in things like sequins, vintage ribbon from clerical robes and tartan material. The lumps vary from walnut shells to door handles to Swarovski crystals.

The pieces titled Saintly Lumps and Pious Lumps have haloes made out of walnut shells; while the two titled Cosmic Lumps have eye-catching, sparkly lumps.

Ms Lysaght said she enjoys making artwork from unusual materials.

"I'm always on the lookout for odd things. Although it does to be that when you're looking for them you don't find them, and when you're not looking for them they turn up."

Ms Lysaght mostly makes 3D artworks. She has tried painting, but doesn't enjoy it.

"I got frustrated because I couldn't walk around the painting and look at it from the back," she said.

"I was the sort of child who believed inanimate objects were real and alive."

Ms Lysaght moved to Whanganui from Wellington six months ago. She first time spent in Whanganui in 2000 when she was the Tylee Cottage artist in residence.

"I made some good connections so I decided to move here."