Fashionable Pest

Who’s the pest? I’m the pest!

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Following a theme of duality she has experienced since becoming a New Zealand citizen, Beatrice Carlson wanted to challenge the idea of demonising introduced animals and putting natives on a pedestal. Despite the widespread destruction they’ve wrought on forests and native species, these animals are not intrinsically bad, she says; they were just in the wrong place at the right time. After all, rabbits, stoats and possums are adored elsewhere, and people make pets of cats, even rats.

On the reverse of the skirt, these interlopers are depicted as cute and cuddly fluttering on delicate wings, while the natives are cast in a more menacing light on the front. Carlson also uses Rotorua imagery as a fire-and-brimstone background to a red-eyed, tusked kiwi, and a roaring toothy “tui-ger”—unusual depictions of threatened wildlife. The piece also includes a Perspex skirt, a woven flax hood and fur wings.

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