The Nelson Mail (NZ)
19 April 1999

Lucy Lawless to lead Suter parade


International women's icon and mother-to-be Lucy Lawless will be casting aside her black leather Xena outfit to star as herself in the Suter Art Gallery's 100th birthday celebration parade in Nelson next month.

The New Zealand actress, best known for her role as Xena, Warrior Princess, will lead the Lift-Off parade down Trafalgar Street on May 30.

The parade will be a prelude to a year of centennial events and exhibitions.

Suter Gallery director Helen Telford said organisers were ``over the moon'' that Lawless would be the celebrity guest to lead the parade, which would celebrate the past and launch the gallery into the new millennium.

Ms Telford said it was Lawless's choice to appear as herself.

``She is seen as a strong woman leader. That's what she represents in her role as Xena -- someone not daunted by obstacles.''

She said Lawless was a well-known figure internationally, and her presence in Nelson would be a major event for the community, as well as something special for the gallery.

Costume, dance, music and classic cars would be features of the parade, which aimed to bring to life the history of the gallery from 1899 to the present, Ms Telford said.

Those taking part in the parade have been asked to come up with imaginative ways of travelling from the city centre to the gallery without their feet touching the ground.

``We will certainly have a conveyance for Lucy Lawless, but we'll keep it a secret until Lift-Off day,'' Ms Telford said.

Speeches and a performance of the Suter's specially-written centennial song will greet the parade as it arrives at the gallery.

Lawless will cut a huge birthday ribbon to be wrapped around the entire building.

The opening of the gallery into its second century would be followed by an afternoon of gala entertainment for the public, Ms Telford said.

Ms Lawless will be photographed next to the two winners of the top spot prizes in the current Art of Money exhibition, for which coins are now being collected around town.

The Suter Art Gallery is New Zealand's third oldest art museum, founded by Amelia Suter in memory of her husband Bishop Suter.

The year's celebrations will close with a 101st birthday party next year, Ms Telford said.

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