US carpenter reigns supreme at 2009 WOW
25 Sep 2009
An Alaskan carpenter has become the first international designer to win New Zealand’s largest and most flamboyant art event - the Montana World of Wearableart (WOW).
David Walker, who created a 17th century ball gown out of mahogany and lacewood, was announced winner of the Montana Supreme WOW Award at the opening in Wellington tonight (25 September). A first time WOW entry by two Wellington designers won runner-up.
The 21st WOW show attracted designers from all over the world who produced 165 unique garments with a variety of intriguing themes from graffiti art and magic gardens to super heroes and dancing cowboys.
Awards went to designers from across New Zealand, India, the USA and the UK.
Lady of the Wood
Walker’s winning design ‘Lady of the Wood’ was created entirely out of mahogany and lacewood with 52 strips of maple and cedar veneer for the hooped skirt, topped off with a wig made from wood shavings.
The Alaskan carpenter’s gown also won the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section. Walker has been creating WearableArt for ten years and won the highly coveted WETA Award in 2007.
First time Wellington entrants, Hayley May and Fiona Christie were runners up to the Supreme Award and also scooped the Gen-I Creative Excellence Section - Fold, with their intricate garment, ‘Second Skin’.
The film-maker and architect said they wanted to create a piece that "resembled a reptile as it sheds its skin". They embedded more than 2000 pleats into the fabric of their garment, folding each into three directions to form scaled plates of armour.
2009 WETA Award
The prestigious WETA Award was won by Sarah Thomas of Timaru in the South Island, for the second year in a row. She also won the American Express Open Section.
Thomas’ winning piece, ‘American Dream’, was modelled on a 1950’s car. She said she was inspired after visiting the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum in Nelson.
Her entry celebrated the notion that "cars are often regarded as female with perky tail fins, extravagant bumpers and mounds of well-placed chrome," she said.
Human hair and the mystique of the horse was the inspiration behind Mary Wing To’s garment, ‘Saddle Up’ - winner of the 2009 Wellington International Award and commended in the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section.
The saddler from Enfield in the United Kingdom had to cut, stain, mould, lace and stitch each piece of leather by hand, then weave silk and human hair around them.
She says she has been reviving the craftsmanship of saddlery through design, "using the body as the canvas and leather as the art."
Untouched World WOW Award
Former WOW award winning designer and 1996 Supreme winner, Susan Holmes from Auckland, won the Untouched World WOW Award with ‘Firebird’.
Her garment combined Stravinsky's music with a Birds Of Paradise design, revealing dramatic colour as it unfolded on stage. "I have entered every year since 1990 and it never gets any easier," said Holmes.
Gina Digirolamo and Lindsey Eisentraut from San Francisco, USA took the Shell Student Design Award with ‘Bound’, featuring two models in austere garments eternally bound by the wrists.
A love of gardening inspired New Zealander Catherine Anderton to create ‘Lagarus Ovatus En Masse’, which won the Booker Spalding First-Time Entrant Award and was also runner up in the American Express Open Section. Her garment was made from more than 2000 cotton tails hand glued into a cloak.
Emma Whiteside won the Shell Sustainability Award for the best garment to use recycled materials, with ‘Queen Adelaide’. The Wellington industrial design student based her design on the English Queen fashioning a regal 18th Century gown out of discarded automotive radiator copper.
The humble dandelion was the impetus behind Tracy Koole of Auckland’s entry, ‘The Dandelion Clock’, which won the WOW Children’s Section.
Long standing WOW designer, Cassandra Bowe fashioned a majestic, walking armchair, ‘Sir Lazyboy’, inspired by "Man’s love of his favourite chair", which won the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum Man Unleashed Section.
The face of Christ on a piece of toast being sold on Trademe, gave Marie Gant Roxburgh of Christchurch the idea for ‘Into Thin Air’, winner of the CentrePort Illumination Illusion Section.
Janet Bathgate of Nelson won the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section with a three piece entry, ‘Rock On In The Shadowlands’, inspired by Maori rock art navigators.
Judges for WOW 2009 were British born, Associate Royal Sculptor Max Patte, NZ fashion designer Annah Stretton, WOW founder Suzie Moncrieff and Asian television personality Mr Tsai Kang Yung, who judged the Wellington International Award.
"I wish every design student from around the world could have a chance to see this show, to see how powerful the creative mind can be," said guest judge Mr Tsai Kang Yung.
37 International designers and more than 100 global media were in Wellington for the WOW Awards Show.
Around 40,000 people will attend WOW shows throughout the season which runs until Sunday 4 October.
What is WOW?
Described as, "a rebellion against the mundane", the Montana World of WearableArt Awards Show bends traditional perceptions of both art and fashion.
The dramatic presentation combining theatre, dance, colour, movement and art has gained international acclaim for its originality.
After seeing the show, well known BBC correspondent Michael Peschardt said: "I’ve seen major cultural and fashion shows around the world and this is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before."
WOW began in 1987 as a promotion for a rural art gallery when Nelson sculptor Suzie Moncrieff conceived the idea of exhibiting art in a live theatrical show. The annual event is now held in Wellington.
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