From WOW to 'Avatar' for young Kiwi artist
A young New Zealand artist who produced her first national masterpiece at the age of eight, was the costume maker behind the hugely successful 3D blockbuster Avatar - the world’s #1 movie of all time.
Claire Prebble, from Golden Bay near Nelson in the South Island, spent three years working on the Hollywood movie.
The then 24-year-old artist worked with Weta Workshop’s creative teams in Los Angeles and Wellington designing and making Na’vi weapons, accessories and clothing for Avatar.
Wellington’s Weta Digital company was behind the ground-breaking technology used to create the new generation 3D special effects which film industry commentators said was the biggest thing for the film making industry since colour film.
When Prebble was finally able to don her 3D glasses and watch Avatar, she says she felt a unique sense of satisfaction.
"I couldn't even say the name of the movie for a while," Prebble said. "I had to keep everything a secret from my friends and family for years and it's really nice to be able to share it."
Avatar has so far grossed more than $2.8 billion worldwide making it the #1 movie of all time.
As well as creating costumes and weapons, Prebble also made textures and samples for the digital artists to replicate.
"They can see how it moves and looks in real life, and that makes it easier for them to create it onscreen," she said.
"When I saw the work created digitally, I was blown away by what an incredible job they had done. Seeing it come from me and then seeing it on the big screen, it looked very much the same."
New Zealand materials
Some pieces took Prebble weeks to make. She used materials from around New Zealand and overseas, including possum skin, feathers, harakeke / flax, semi-precious stones, crystals, dyes and beads.
The artist is a master at creating out of natural and unusual materials.
Claire Prebble created her first costume for the internationally renowned New Zealand art event World of Wearable Art (WOW) when she was eight, and left school at 13 to concentrate on her passion.
In 2004 at the age of 18, Prebble won the WOW Supreme Award - becoming the show’s youngest-ever winner.
Richard Taylor, Weta's co-founder and creative director and also a WOW judge, offered Prebble the job on Avatar three years ago. She also worked on the Narnia film Prince Caspian and says she would like to continue developing her skills in costume construction.
Profile: Claire Prebble
Claire Prebble grew up surrounded by creative people, artists and craftspeople at Golden Bay, in the Nelson - Tasman region, and says that as far back as she can remember she has been creating art.
Prebble first entered the World of Wearable Art Awards as an eight-year-old, and has submitted creations every year for 13 years. When her garment 'Eos' won the Supreme Award in 2004, Prebble was just 18 and the youngest person to ever win the elite title.
Her work has featured on television and in newspapers, magazines and books around the world. Her interests are in the design and creation of couture clothing and costumes for the movie and fashion industries.
In 2005, Prebble used her travel prize from winning WOW to visit Singapore, Dubai, Scotland, England, Italy, Paris, New York, New Jersey, California and Oregon to learn as much as she could about costumes, art and fashion.
While in Dubai, Prebble did a two-month internship at the Arushi fashion house which specialises in haute couture wedding dresses and evening gowns for women of the Middle East, including several of the region's royal families.
Prebble says during that time she learned the intricacies of textile design for couture weddings, and found working with the crystals, beads, sequins, jewellery and semi precious stones very inspiring.
She is known for her originality and creative wire techniques which she has fine-tuned by experimenting with chicken wire, knitting recycled copper wire, and plaiting and stitching fine sterling silver wire.
The glistening wings of the Supreme Award-winning garment ‘Eos’ were the result of her wire construction techniques.
Prebble - now 26 - has worked at Weta Workshops since 2006, and says she is constantly inspired by the environment there. "Being at Weta has opened my eyes to even broader creative possibilities. It is a dream come true to be working here."
She is currently working on another major film but can not reveal any further details.
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