Re­mem­ber­ing the lost horses

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Ten thou­sand horses left New Zealand for the front lines in World War I— only four re­turned. It was this fact that in­spired New Zealand artist Cat Auburn to cre­ate her unique work, ti­tled

The Horses Stayed Be­hind, which is now show­ing at Tau­ranga

Art Gallery.

Auburn ap­proached horse own­ers from across the coun­try in

2014 to do­nate a small clip­ping of full length hair from their horse or pony’s tail which she then made into rosettes, flow­ers made in the style of

Vic­to­rian hair memo­ri­als. Rem­i­nis­cent of a gar­den in bloom, these exquisitely de­tailed rosettes are pre­sented across five hor­i­zon­tal linen can­vases.

Each horse and rider who par­tic­i­pated in the work is iden­ti­fi­able, in stark con­trast to the anony­mous fate that awaited thou­sands of the horses and men who left New Zealand for the war. Each donation of horse tail came to Auburn­with a story. Some with small notes of sup­port, oth­er­swith cher­ished pho­to­graphs and heartrend­ing tales of rid­ers and horses that had died.

With up­com­ing Ar­mistice Day memo­ri­als on Novem­ber 11 this work is even more poignant. Visit be­fore De­cem­ber 2 to ap­pre­ci­ate the work and the history in­spir­ing it. This is a tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion de­vel­oped by the Sar­jeant Gallery in Whanganui and sup­ported by Friends of Tau­ranga Art Gallery.

The gallery is open daily from 10am to 4.30pm and is free to visit.

■ For more info visit www.art­gallery.org.nz/see

PHOTO/Richard Wot­ton.

De­tail of Cat Auburn’s art work cre­ated with horse hair, cop­per wire and un­bleached linen.

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