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Red Dancer

Taken from ‘Aotea Centre Works of Art’, edited by Tara Werner, written by Karen Scherer and Katherine Findlay.

‘Red Dancer’ is a sculpture by Barry Lett, commissioned as one of a group of works for Aotea Centre. Red Dancer is suspended high on the outside wall of Aotea Centre, adjacent to the level 4 entrance into Aotea Centre, Carter Holt Harvey Lobby. Originally designed as a free-standing sculpture, its present position was suggested by Hamish Keith who coordinated the Aotea Centre artworks.

The four metre high sculpture is made of hundreds of pieces of tanalised pine which have been screwed then glued together. Lett began the work by laying down a large paper image, scaled up from the original drawing, on the studio floor. The work then progressed, piece by piece and layer by layer, in a totally organic manner.

The finished work was so big, Lett didn't know how to get it out of the studio building. A very understanding landlady allowed him to remove the roof, and the work was lifted out by crane.

According to Lett, the figure has both “hero” and “antihero” qualities. These relate to the theatrical themes of comedy and tragedy, and are emphasised by the pose of the dancer. The outstretched arms and the lithe bode are seemingly contradicted by the relaxed standing pose of the feet.

Barry Lett:

I wanted to suggest that the figure was about to dance, by the fact that it was poised off balance.