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WOW - World of Wearable Art, out of this world
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Member Name: logberg
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Date: 18/09/05, updated on 05/10/05 (770 review reads)
Advantages: Unbelievable creations, zany, colourful arty design
Disadvantages: Absolutely, positively NONE
For a few nights in September, in Nelson, New Zealand the Trafalgar Centre has been a wonderland of outrageous creations from artists/designers/sculptors, professional and extremely amateur competitors from all over the world.
What you see now, when you are lucky enough to get a ticket, is grand, out-of-this-world music, light and sound extravaganza where local models parade a catwalk of non-stop garments, all have to be ''wearable'' but that's about the only rule.
It wasn't always this grand, in 1988 a local sculptor, Suzie Moncreiff decided to hold a wearable art exhibition in a little old cob cottage to give it a bit of a financial boost to refurbish it. The first night it poured with rain and the rain-washed event attracted a small number of entries but the imagination of local artists was whetted... from then on it has grown to be a huge, international event, so big it's shifted from Nelson in the South Island to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington.
The success of WOW Wearable Arts is that the local people have got in behind it. For month and months each year people donate their time to build sets, work on lights, get the music right, model, become dressers and loads of clubs volunteer thousands of hours to get the show underway.
Nowadays it has grown to be an extremely polished, professional event and hundreds of people send entries in from all over the world. A couple of months before the September show the judges announce the 160 or so which will be in the show.
Now, I cannot start to describe the garments I've seen in three shows: just imagine the most unusual, creative, colourful and strange get ups and you are just about on your way to knowing how exciting WOW Wearable Arts is.
Some of the past winners have included Bacon Bits: an entire, flowing gown of mushroom coloured, flowing fabric with real bacon bits strategically placed. Another year the New Zealand paua shell made up into many thousands of pieces was sewn into the most amazing coat and pantaloons. Another,dragon festooned yards and yards of flowing silk, of stunning colours for many feet as the beast floated across the stage. Imagine a tree - gnarled and so slowly strutting the stage, inside a 80 year old model, doing his thing for WOW. Picture a huge, smokey space ship landing on the stage and hundreds of little blue children dancing up and out of it - in a cloud of mist.
One year the finale was more than your emotions/senses could take in..... a woman and man, dressed all in white approached each other, slowly from each end of the huge stage... music built up to a crescendo and as they met, he raised his hands to the heavens, she slowly moved her hands up beside his body and from nowhere raised a brand new - two-day-old nude baby to the heavens. I've gone all prickly remembering it. Have to say it wasn't seen as creative by some, the local newspaper ran quite a few complaints about the baby's rights; I have to say, being there, on the edge of your seat for two hours and such a personal, moving, emotional finale was mind boggling.
The music, light and choreography is now world class, Suzie Moncreiff has built up a team which works all year round to present something bigger and better each year. Such is its reputation that firms in countries all over the world pay her to take mini-shows to special events in their promotion, political and other activities schedules.
Now, in the earlier days I decided to make a Wearable Art entry on the theme of Nelson Our Home Town. To my great surprise it was accepted for the show. I crocheted, knitted and sewed every spare minute available to me things to promote my home town: grapes, tobbacco, hops, apples, peaches, vegetables.I created it in miniature and sewed or glued them all onto my 'picture'. The front was a collage of Nelson 'things', (imagine my Southen Alps and the strategically placed 'mountains'with skiers plying the slopes), the back was a sunset against Fifeshire Rock in the harbour, made with dried flowers. I made a yellow mask of dried flowers, with flashing lights as the sun and hanging from it was a crocheted aeroplane with parachute jumpers moving up and down. I loved it. So much so that I had talked and talked to all my friends and workmates who insisted I have a ''showing'' before submitting it for consideration.
Now, that was a party to remember. My live-in companion refused to attend as he was more than a little piqued that he had not had a meal on the dining room table for 4 months and thought it all a bit ''odd''. But, my girlfriends were so surprised to see it and when it was accepted to go in the show they were wrapt for me.
On the night of the show he sat beside me and said, ''I needn't have worried about how weird your entry was, the other competitors around us are much more weird in their evening dress! I have to say, my entry was never going to win but I was still proud to see it being worn so well and moving its way along the catwalk with other entries which actually paled mine into insignificance. That's where it is now, insignificantly folded up, in a sheet in the top of the wardrobe!
WoW, Wearable Arts has now attracted many sponsors, putting huge amounts of money into it and ordinary people like me would have no show of being accepted for the show. But, over the years there have been successful entries from school children, rest home residents, artists, sculptors, potters, embroiderers, weavers, tanners and even woodworkers. Anything can be used for this extravaganza, as long as it is wearable. Imagine the surprise of all when one year a person entered a garment made in seaweed, fresh,so it had to be remade every night.
There are several competition sections and each year a special new one is added to bring something new for prospective entrants. There is no break in the show, from the first sound of music and sight of subtle light, or a spaceman bursting in from the heavens, the show MOVES. Suzie and her team pick a theme which is the main show with the competition sections melding in so professionally.
I cannot possibly paint the real WoW Wearable Arts picture for you here, I wish I could because you would be gobsmacked as thousands are every year. Months out you have to queue in the street to get a ticket or buy one via the Air New Zealand Website. I was lucky because I covered it each year for my newspaper so mostly I got free tickets to go, I think now it is something like $65 NZ (GBP25 pounds approximately) but this is a huge investment in your entertainment, arty, cultural experience, money well spent.
If you are in New Zealand in September, you will now have to go to Wellington to attend an absolutely amazing show, but go to the website early in the year and see what to do about booking a ticket. www.worldofwearableart.com/tickets.html
Then, if you like the show, when you visit Nelson you can go to the WoW Wearable Art and Collectable Car Museum where you will see some of the past winners on show, along with beautiful collectable cars, shown by the local millionaire who assisted in funding the venue to more permanently show the premier WoW garments.
The website I mention will give you a little idea of what the garments look like, if you would like to enter, don't let your distance from the show put you off. For a couple of years now an English designer has created fantastic garments and he even travels over there to make sure they arrive in tip top condition.
WOW, you must experience WoW Wearable Art at least once in your life - I sure hope you can.
Summary: World of Wearable Art a WOW experience, mind boggling
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