Tuesday, 3 October 2017

WOW 2017 - The Making of



















This is the fungus that started it all. Cordyceps. Spores from the cordyceps fungus infiltrate the body and mind of an insect, instructing it to climb to a suitable height and grip on. They die, providing a home for the fruiting body, which forces its way out of them in long spikes, which will release spores and start the process again. I can only blame my Dad, a passionate biologist, and David Attenborough for this kind of interest! My creation, nicknamed Spike early on in the process, was imagined as sprouting out of a beautiful green/blue metallic insect body. For many months though, he was all white, as he is made from bridal satin off cuts! Originally, there was only a minimum of spikes, then it was agreed that more, more, more was required! Here you can see the different sections in progress - main torso, legs, and headpiece. There are also arm pieces. You can see that the mannequin base is weighed down to balance the weight of the sculpture - eventually the glass base broke, and my sooper-dooper on-call engineer-in-residence made a brilliant and suitably weighty replacement from a car brake drum - Studebaker, of course!

 Although the white is very effective, and I can imagine a relative of this making an appearance in the UV section, it was always meant to be coloured, and an experimental piece was done to confirm. The base was spray painted to create initial coverage, then hand painted with beautiful metallic acrylic paints. Texture was created with heat distorted satin - you can see here how much a shape shrinks down once subjected to the heat gun. Continuous sequin trim was also applied, as well as fragments of mesh and sequin materials. I found the perfect sequinned lycra for the bodysuit, but it wasn't very stretchy, so I ended up making another two to send over with him - I'm still not sure which one was worn on the WOW stage!!


There were definitely a few WTF moments as I dressed Ciera - things you thought were all resolved suddenly become an issue when dressing an actual human!! Thanks to Kiri for running out to buy emergency socks to cover Ciera's feet, and I was very glad to have my pins!
Freyja was at the same shoot. The brilliant fit of the dress (if I do say so myself!) was nutted out with teachers at TAFE Brisbane - in particular, Janice Mengerson and Anne McManus - in my 2014 project for 'Studio'. I used its sculptural, foam supported base to apply feather strips to. These were bought as loose feathers, and I sewed them into strips, before painting each with a base of gold paint.
Photographer Angelina Raisa, model Heidi Sun and myself.
When the dress was assembled, colours were applied to each individual feather. Most of the painting took place in what is now known as the deck studio! To create a really stable but light-weight headpiece, I riveted strips of aluminium together, before covering with foam and fabric, then adding the leather pieces. The reticule was made by making a simple stuffed satin shape, before covering in fabric and moulded leather pieces.
Freyja's story only came together after her creation - sometimes this happens. With her goddess-like appearance, and the abundance of feathers, she became Freyja. Drawing inspiration from global myths involving feathered entities communicating with the Underworld, Freyja is named after the Norse goddess, who possessed a cloak of feathers allowing her to fly between different worlds to those. From ravens as messengers of deities and as omens of death, misfortune and war, to the Egyptian Goddess of Truth, Justice and morality, Ma'at, weighing up hearts and souls against feathers to decide fate in the afterlife - feathers are strongly symbolic.
And here are the beasties are on stage, almost 6 months after I packed them in crates and sent them off!


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