For the first time in 28 years, Kakanui artist Sarah Taylor’s work will be hanging in a gallery.
This week, Taylor’s work went on display in Oamaru’s Crafted gallery, as the guest artist for the month.
Originally from Wales, Taylor completed a contemporary craft course at the Hereford Art College, giving her time and a collaborative environment to create art in. She created taxidermy-style chickens, made with wood, handmade paper, sewing and wire.
‘‘It was fantastic,’’ she said.
After practising as an artist and having her work displayed in galleries in London and Bristol, Taylor decided it was time to travel.
She ended up in New Zealand, and travelled around the North Island on a working holiday visa before heading back overseas.
Having missed out on the South Island, she re-entered the country on a horticultural visa and met her future husband, ‘‘Kakanui boy’,’ Greg Leaman. After travelling together, the couple permanently settled in Waitaki in 2006.
During this time, art hit the backburner, but a good friend of Taylor’s told her ‘‘when the time was right’’, she would start making art again.
As it turned out, the right time came during New Zealand’s first lockdown.
‘‘I’m a classic lockdown artist.’’
Stuck at home, like so many, Taylor turned to art.
And when Waitaki’s first Meet the Maker rolled around in 2020, she decided it was time to ‘‘get on and actually do something’’ and signed up to contribute in the following year’s event.
Though still paper-based, her current work was very different as she endeavoured to capture the ‘‘local’’ colour and wildlife with paper collage.
‘‘That’s what artists do. They find what they are passionate about and it comes out somewhere through the fingertips.’’
Similar to her former art, she was drawn to the natural world and its ‘‘ordinary’’ elements.
‘‘I like to champion the ordinary — weeds to smelly seabirds,’’ Taylor said.
‘‘The ordinary is quite interesting, and it’s everywhere, you can’t avoid it.
‘‘If you look, you can see it.’’
Taylor had always been in interested in wildlife.
‘‘I come from rural mid-Wales, and essentially, in the ’ 70s and ’80s there was very little to do — so you joined things like the Young Ornithologists Club.’’
She would spend her time exploring the hills, looking for birdlife, she said.
Now all she has to do is look up.
Taylor and Leaman, and their, daughter Eve (13), live between Oamaru and Kakanui. She is surrounded by her garden, which she had filled to ‘‘bursting point’’, and had wildlife on her doorstep.
‘‘It surrounds me,’’ she said.
Taylor’s work is on display at Crafted in Harbour St for the month of February.