Sunday 29 September 2013

WoW success - South Pacific Runner Up and International Award Australia and South Pacific

And so ends a pretty amazing week in Wellington! We were lucky to have an uneventful flight and smooth landing, but what really made our arrival special was walking out to see this!

The lovely Noel was there to pick me up, with my name on a sign! It was a complete surprise, and made me feel very special!! I know you weren't keen on having your photo taken Noel, but you made my day!! The afternoon continued in an excellent way with the consumption of a bottle of Veuve - my favourite! Before we knew it, it was Preview night, and as usual, I am so glad to have seen it before the Awards show on Friday. I knew the South Pacific section would be powerful, but when I saw how Hakaturi was presented, I cried – it looked so damn good! We left the show on a high, feeling pretty confident in my chances of achieving, and we had a bed picnic of far too much champagne and stinky cheese whilst we discussed the show.
The next morning was the International Designer Day, where we were hosted by Sarah Hume of the Wellington City Council, and Esmè Palliser, International Designer Wrangler extraordinaire. Feeling a bit shabby, I was happy to have my day planned with my only role to follow orders. After a long and incomprehensible Maori welcome at Te Papa, it was onto a bus to visit the Weta Workshop. I have visited the site before, and been behind the scenes, but this was a truly comprehensive tour of all the workshop facilities – it was AMAZING!! You could see all the designers looking at the different materials and machines and their brains just whirling! Of course, we weren’t allowed to take any photos, and even had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but I was able to get a shot with the trolls in the front garden! I enjoyed sitting next to Fifi Colston on the bus, who shares my sense of humour, and is herself a successful long-term WoW entrant, having been selected 19 times. Thanks for the giggles, Fifi!!
After lunch at Te Papa, we enjoyed the new format Designer Forum, which is usually held the morning after the Awards night. For one thing, we didn’t have to drag ourselves out after a late night, and the new format of having presentations by two designers changed it from what is frequently a thinly disguised attack from non-selected artists asking why they were not successful, to an entertaining and actually useful exercise. Even though question time was limited, there were still a few that just made you shake your head…..
Friday morning we met up with all the other Australian Designers and headed off to the Australian High Commission, where we were warmly welcomed by High Commissioner Michael Potts and his wife Lynda.
Having been on several other visits where we kind of wondered what we were doing there, it was a very pleasant morning – once my speech was over and done with! I felt fine beforehand, but the minute I got up there felt quite wobbly, and could hear it in my breathing! I was very grateful to have the lectern to grip onto!! Michael was presented with the new Wearable Art book from WoW, a truly luscious book which I am honoured to have a page in, and the Australian Designers were presented with certificates of recognition.
The morning had quite a celebratory feel, as not only Matts’ birthday but our engagement were both announced, and we were congratulated with warmth from all.
And then, here it was – the big night! After an enjoyable afternoon spent dozing, it was time to pretty up, and head downstairs for the Designer pre-show function, where the birthday and the engagement were announced again! It was exciting to see familiar designer faces at the Arena, and meet some new ones as other designers noting the designer nametags would introduce themselves. We had great seats with a clear and slightly elevated view right onto one of the rotating arms of the stage. As the spectacular drew to a close, I started to feel very nervous….

WoW had a different presentation method this year, where all 4 or 5 finalists would be called up on stage to stand next to their garment as the places were announced. It was more interesting for the audience, as they had plenty to look at, although it is possibly more challenging for designers as they must remain composed waiting for their name to be called! Fortunately, I was pretty thrilled to be up there, and very happy to receive second place! We left the stage and were ushered back into the auditorium to watch the rest of the awards, then herded back again, to all reappear on stage for the announcement of the Supreme Award winner and Runner Up. Halfway across backstage I heard my name called, whooped, and started running!! I had quite a ramp to run up in my ridiculous shooz, but ‘I work out, you know’ and with the assistance of a hand in my back made it up in remarkable time. I had no idea what I had won, and had to ask my models!!! As the proceedings ended and I stood on stage clutching the two Awards folders, I looked up at the mirror confetti tumbling down, shining in the lights and thought yep, pretty happy with this!!
More details to follow in a later post - there is champoo waiting to be drunk!!

Sunday 22 September 2013

WOW - the final countdown

This is for you Donna Toussaint - studio mess!!
Okay then - it's now officially TWO MORE SLEEPS! Yesterday we delivered the boys to annual cadet camp. After a run home (struggle street!) then domestics, it was an enjoyable afternoon in the studio, making a collage out of the most recent Style magazine (I think this should become a tradition!) and laying down some watercolour backgrounds for some drawings.

Georgia O'Keefe: Black Iris No. 2, 1936
Black Iris II, Georgia O'Keefe
1.+i+come+into+myself+and+faraway+i+am+there+too.jpg (200×400)
Del Kathryn Barton
My next design assigment for TAFE is to create a collection inspired by either the art of Georgia O'Keefe or Del Kathryn Barton. It's a tough choice. I have to say that Georgia's work speaks to me very much on a textile design level, and very much suits my own aesthetic, but I am equally excited by Ms Barton's work, which is  inspiring me on another artistic level.
It is tempting me into drawing and painting again and I am loving it! So, they're both inspiring, and I think Ms Barton will take me further down the illustrative path, whilst Ms O'Keefe inspires a collection of fashion designs. See, not even a few months, and TAFE is already fabulous for me!
I also managed to finalise my own WoW outfit, by using a $2 op-shop bag and riveting a piece of my moulded leather to it! For the last few years, I have not had a suitable bag - this time, I will!
OMG - did I mention 2 more sleeps?!!
Last night we partied hard and went to bed at 8:30pm, only to sleep in until nearly 8am! Oooh, party people!! We had a date to to meet the East Coast Muscle Car Club at Harrigans Hotel for lunch, and after a small detour to Hope Island (never following Barrie and Chooka again! ) we had a very enjoyable lunch in the sun with some groovy tunes to accompany it - bliss! Here are my two handsome boys, Fred and Matt. I did have every intention of driving the freshly tuned Fred, but got seduced by some beautiful ales and Sauvignon Blancs, so became ineligible!

We stopped off at the Storey Bridge on the way home, where I noticed our reflection in Freds' mudguard. OMG - I have 6 foot legs!! Awesome! It was a great day of doing not much at all, except enjoying the day and each others company.
Back at home, we chilled out in the Oasis and gazed into the firepit..... always a contemplative experience.
Well, this is it, folks! It's off to NZ for the 25th Annual WOW Awards! Looking forward to catching up with some of you there, and filling the rest of you in afterwards. I wish all my fellow designers the best, I know it will be just amazing for us all to see our designs on stage in the amazing performance. WOW's 25th. my 5th, and Matts' 55th birthday! All the 5's - a lucky year perhaps? I just know it's going to be fabulous - can't wait!

Monday 16 September 2013

Countdown time again!

Well, it's that time again. My family has recently been tortured with the "in two weeks from  now" and 'two weeks today' refrain, and we’re about to hit the one week mark! My week was rather enhanced by the invitation to the Australian High Commission in Wellington for a champagne breakfast to celebrate the success of the Australian designers in being selected for the World of WearableArt. The icing on the cake was ‘would I be the speaker’? Errrr, yes! What a wonderful way to start Matts’ birthday, culminating in the awards ceremony that evening!
On Saturday I enjoyed catching up with all my friends from ATASDA, and was much buoyed by their confidence in me and well wishes! It was lovely to see the interest in my leatherwork, as well as in my sample piece from Pam de Groots’ workshop. It was also heartening to hear that quite a few of them are reading this blog! We all enjoyed a comprehensive talk from Tricia Smout on her recent year as Artist in Residence at the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens.  

The Flowers of Friendship Hangings were impressive, as were the lovely works comprising of ‘Grevillea Grandeur’ made in collaboration with Joanna Faber, where photographs of Grevilleas were printed on handmade paper.
Before lighting, the oven was the perfect
place to leave the dough to rise
It was also wonderful to catch up with Janet de Boer for the last time before I go off to WoW and she goes off to run the fabulous workshop programme of Geelong Forum Textile Retreat.  On my return, it was straight into the making of many batches of pizza dough, in readiness for  
the first public firing of the oven for the boys’ 15th birthday. What a workout! I've got to teach the others how to do this or I'm going to be stuck with it forever! Many fine pizzas were created, and congratulations to Matt for his fine handling of them!

Sunday I got to play in the studio, and with Matts’ assistance created yet another space – this time a photographic area to simplify those times when I need to take photographs of my work. We used some shadecloth screens I had bought at Reverse Garbage with this in mind to create a blockout for the backdrop drape, some beautiful fabric bought of course, from Trads! This blockout also shields my table from the breeze that usually comes up when I am trying to do a felt layout! As does the one now enclosing the studio along the outside of the house. StudioSvenja has evolved again! I still need to work on the lighting, but it's certainly a step forwards! I'm hoping this will make it easier for me to photograph my pieces to put in my Etsy shop StudioSvenja, which currently languishes emptily. That is my task for this rather melancholic and miserable Monday! Can I just say that in one week from now I'll be posting my last blog before we got to New Zealand?!!!

Monday 9 September 2013

Weekend Work

After the weekly house cleaning was done on Saturday, I was delighted to find myself in the studio before midday, at work on my own outfit for WoW! I even remarked to myself how fabulous it was to be there, with no commitments whatsoever looming, apart from voting (blerghhh!) Bliss! It was a tricky piece, and as I riveted the pieces together - all scrap pieces from the actual WoW garments - it kept changing the way it would sit on the body.
Using stocking straps to hold pieces in place
The beauty of working in leather though, is that you can mould it to fit, so once those attachments were made, I could wet it down and scrunch it in to a tighter fit, as it was wandering off the shoulders. Although most of it was already moulded and strapped in to place on the mannequin, it really did take quite a bit of time as I kept trying it on and seeing how pieces fitted together on my body.
As I shifted gear to make the simple under-dress, I was thrilled to a) easily find the pattern hanging on my pattern rack and b) simply step outside to my cutting table to lay it out. Did I mention that I love my new space?!!
Looking in from the cutting table
I finished off Saturday by doing what I have wanted to do all week - starting a painting on my new drawing board! I did a watercolour background textured with gladwrap to start off with something of a background. I've then chosen an image out of my 'Book of Fabulous Things' to sketch on to it. Today I spoiled myself at the Art Shed and bought myself some new sketchbooks, paints, and fabulous Coloursoft pencils, to further experiment with. They are just delicious!
On Sunday I did battle with airbrushes to dye my leather - it shouldn't be this hard! From the small 'craft' airbrush to the much more robust version, they kept blocking up! The dye is water consistency, so I can't work it out. Very frustrating. However, I got there in the end, slowly, and finished off with the paintbrush! I've given a light spray of 'Moon Shadow Mist', which has given it a lovely purple glow, and will paint some further highlighting on - perhaps in silver. Two weeks to go!!
I've made a one-sleeved black jersey dress to wear underneath, but when I looked at the leather piece today I wondered if it might need something more to it - perhaps some slashes through it to echo the shapes of the leather....... we'll see....
Many hours of labour come to fruition.
Whilst I was happy playing in my studio, Matt was working on the woodfired oven. Having discarded our brilliant idea of turning it into a dragon sculpture - it just became too architectural for that - we have let it speak to us, and it asked for an industrial look. Matt rifled through his treasures and found some railway spikes and a groovy gauge to start it off. There are side sculptures, doors, and the storage area underneath to complete, but it had its' first 'curing' fire today in readiness for cooking many, many pizzas next weekend for the 15th birthday of the boys!
And so ends another weekend of creation. I'd like to share this cartoon of us drawn by the talented Megan Hills which epitomises the way we work, and graces my studio desk - a real treasure, Megan!

Wednesday 4 September 2013

3 weeks until the annual pilgrimage!

Yes, for the first time, the amount of time between getting accepted into the World of WearableArt and actually going there seems to have just flown! Normally it feels like people are asking me for endless months when I'll be going over - not so this time! 3 weeks to go and I still haven't made my outfit. Well, actually, nothing new there! I finally decided what I'd like to make on the weekend - I took my sketchbook across the road to the American Embassy for their 'cook-out' of delightful smoked meats, where I'm sure the Apple Pie Moonshine helped my creative juices! - and planned to get started this week. Uh-uhhhh. Monday morning, JUST as I was headed down to StudioSvenja to get started, I got the call that Girl Friday was ill, and I needed to go to work. Bum!! Tuesday fared no better, as plans again got foiled on hearing that Girl Friday was worse and in hospital! Bum again, and obviously Major Bum for Girl Friday! Best Wishes to Trish and hope you get better soon!
I had a Design exam today at TAFE, and was glad I managed to fit in some revision last night and this morning, as I was scribbling constantly for the half hour of the exam. My first exam in many years, it was quite exhilarating! I was disappointed that so many aspects seemed to be neglected whilst others where repeated, but call me sick - I enjoyed it! After handing in two lots of assessment which took me all weekend to complete, it was off to West End to lunch with Maman! After some wonderful Noms at Lock 'n' Load, and some delightful shopping at Dandelyon, it was finally time to get into the studio! Playing with left over pieces from the actual WoW designs, some paper for patternmaking, and building on some previous bodice moulding, I think I've just about come up with what I want. Here's a teaser shot in the mirror (left) - it's already moved on a lot from here!
I plan to wear this piece over a one-sleeved metallic jersey dress in the style of one of my entry garments. I should have more to show you very soon!
Mishka loves it when I work with leather, as it require soaking in water. As a cat with a major fetish for water, he thinks this is an awesome process!

I recently acquired a new addition to the studio - a knock on the side of the house turned out to be my neighbour asking me if I wanted a drawing table before he left it out on the kerb. Errrrr, YES!!!! And here it is! Oh my!!
Thank you Rick! I've always wanted one! It was lovingly installed in the (er-hem) rather crowded looking studio this week. Boys, leaving your room right beside my studio anytime soon....?!!
Wow, StudioSvenja just keeps evolving. It's a beautiful space, and can I just say again how much I love being surrounded by my stuff?!!Blessed am I.
Speaking of blessed, here is one of my fellow op-shoppers at the Annerley strip last weekend.
Hallelujah, brothers! Although I was there only as a consultant, I was however the most successful shopper of the day coming home with a lurid sequin skirt - yeh!!