tonight i went to annual wow – world of wearable art – awards show

the show was started by sculptor suzie moncrieff in 1987 to showcase the work of local nelson new zealand artisans. it has grown beyond what nelson can host and how sells out 2 weeks in wellington. it started with a vision of models wearing the art and has evolved into what they wear *is* the art.

no way i can give it justice but mentally combine a nyc fashion show, cirque du soleii, a moby concert & the ballet and you’re close. the show programme describes it as mardi gras meets haute coulture at a peter gabriel concert directed by salvador dali.

a year in advance the sections (categories) for the next year are announced. this year they were dreams (children’s section), south pacific, shades of white, man unleashed, illumination illusion, avant garde and open.

the show cast kicks off each section with a 5 to 10 minute performance by the show cast tied the section’s theme. these performance were worth the ticket but were just creating the mood for the main attractions. this would segue to the appearance best entries for that section. sort of like a fashion show in that they would come out one after another but they well integrated into the performance by cast. each section had the 20 best and some were amazing and some seemed to me to be trying to hard – but that’s art, right?

a bit more on the cast performances. they were all great but the one for the south pacific section was visually stunning and i admit a bit thought provoking. the lights come up a bit on the dark stage to see 10 maori men and women from the 1800s. in from the side slowly comes 10 settlers in the full victorian garb. you can immediately see the stark extremes of their worlds. the maori clearly frightened but being proud and brave. the settlers hesitantly entering a very foreign world, particularly in contrast to their ultra refined victorian manners and dress. it made me appreciate how extreme that was vs. what we’re doing. a much greater journey (3 months in a ship at sea – no in seat meal service), arriving in a strange work (they did not arrive on NZ1 at auckland international) without a sense of where their next meal would come from (no turkish takeways yet although probably a kfc…) and a unknown indigenous population. the scene had the settlers presenting the maori with gifts including a dress for the queen and suit for the king. one of the settlers then takes a photo of the maori king and queen using a camera and flash pan. the fantastic visual here was as the flash went off the stage went dark and the backdrop was replaced with the expected photographic image – but the image was of the real maori king and queen from the original settlement. during the rest of the south pacific section they displayed stunning images of maori from the early settlement days.

now on to the some of the entries.

“rattle you dags” (left) from auckland won best in show, best new contributor and the south pacific section.
“prehistoric princess” from alaska won the weta (peter jackson’s creative studio is located here in wellington) award the avant garde section.

“flowers of the sea” from australia won the illumination award

“shop til you drop” from nelson, was my choice for the shades of white section. made entirely from used plastic shopping bags
“grim furry tales” from auckland won the children’s section

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