Tuesday 26 September 2017

The 2017 WOW Adventure

Preview drinks at the Foxglove
After only a few hours sleep, I was happy to get a few more on the early flight to Wellington, where we landed with, I think, only inches to spare on the runway! The weather was just as I ordered, and after a delicious nom of duck paté at the General Practitioner, a brief wander, and a wee lie down, we dressed for the Preview Show and strolled down to the Foxglove to meet some of our fellow designers - mostly the repeat offenders - as well as Janet de Boer and husband Peter, along with Susan Holmes, and International Designer Wrangler Esmé Palliser, with foot injury in a wheelchair pushed by husband Grant!

Keryn Whitney, Fifi Colston, Erica Gray

Programmes were available at 5:30, and they were promptly devoured (thank you Matt for getting it for me - your shooz were more sensible for the task!)
The show seemed to start slowly in the first two sections - or as Beatrice Carlson described it, a crescendo - and then it ramped up. When Cordycephila came out, the movement was SO amazing, he was really brought to life - so much so that I cried with delight! I later learned that it was a dancer performing in there, and passed on my sincere thanks and congratulations to her for doing such an amazing job. Freyja looked beautiful, and my model for her later contacted me to thank me for making such a beautiful piece, and that she hoped she was doing it justice - awww! Yes Misha, you are! Amazingly, a lot of people could tell it was mine - but not Cordycephila (AKA Spike!) You can see Spike in the second video on this article.
Freyja, Open Section
Cordycephila, WETA Workshop section - Science Fiction
Please visit my Pinterest for more images of Cordycephila and Freyja.
I was up at 6am the next morning, amazingly, and, Wellington being a bit of a slow-starting town, nowhere was open for coffee yet, so McDonald's it was. Next stop, Designer Day, where we met the other International Designers at their hotel before heading down to the
Fangirl moment - the beautiful Supernova by Gillian Saunders, Supreme Award 2016. Gives me hope that beautiful garments can win!
Fifi Colston, Vicky Robertson, moi on the WOW stage.
TSB Bank Arena to meet the New Zealand Designers for a traditional Maori welcome followed by a backstage tour. I was keen to catch up with Wardrobe Manager Leonie Trathen, and when I said I hoped my garments were behaving well, she said she needed to talk to me about some visibility issues with Spike. Apparently this happened for quite a few pieces which were fine in rehearsal, but became blinded when in lights on the stage. I was more than happy for the eyeholes to be trimmed up a bit to allow Spike to perform to his best! It was good to be reminded again of the angle and narrowness of the ramp that our poor models have to get up in the dreadfully wicked shoes we send them! Leonie also had another great tip for us - not to use second hand shoes, as they are more likely to fall apart, and that the shoe size changes when we make modifications to it. It seems that shoe size can be an important factor in many decisions!
Off to the Wharewaka function centre for the official welcome from the mayor, and a much needed lunch! Next were two workshops - one with Miodrag Guberinic on using worbla, the next with Weta Workshop staff on hair punching.

Worbla Wokshop

Hair punching into silicon 'skin'
Baroness Varcra III, Dawn Mostow, Ben Gould and Adam McAlavey
We ran out of time to play in the worbla workshop, and blew the fuses with all the heat guns anyway, so packed the loot in our bags and chatted. We were supposed to play with moulding the material around the cute little WOW signs we now have! For the hair punching workshop, we were given a slab of silicon, a hank of human hair and a punching tool, and shown the way to punch hair in a realistic pattern. It was quite a nice, meditative action, but I wouldn't want to do it day in, day out!! Adam was grossed out, then pretty excited about it, and we were all giggling as our pieces ended up looking like armpits, vulvas, or really bad hairpieces!!!
The section categories for next year were then announced by Dame Suzie Moncrieff, then it was drinks and nibbles.
Jubinav Chadra and slightly sozzled designers!
Although exhausted from the day, I perked up enough (bubbles will do that!) to manage to chat to a few more new people, including a lovely gal from Switzerland. Her story was fantastic - on holiday in Nelson a few years ago, it was a rainy day, so off to the WOW museum she went! A staff member encouraged her to enter, although she didn't think she could, being from overseas. And so a star was born! (She went on to win the Suzie Moncrieff award!) For the first time ever, I have had people immediately recognise my piece when described during the Designer Day, and enthuse about it! That instant recognition spoke volumes to me.
We decided on a quiet night, and went home for a nap before dinner in our hotel restaurant, which is excellent - The Arborist.
After an excellent sleep we woke early before meeting Esmé and the other Australian Designers to head off to brunch at the Australian Embassy. We were met straight away by the Acting High Commissioner Andrew Cumpston, and enjoyed a chat with him, before moving in and talking to other staff, and some invited students from local schools. Erica Gray gave the Designer address, and we then proceeded to enjoy a lovely brunch with bubbles. I was very hungry, but was wary of eating as it made conversations a little bit messy and difficult!
 Back in town, we were met by Esmé's husband Grant and not an empty wheelchair, but one containing Lynn Christiansen!! We visited a few favourite shops before heading to the #wellyloveswow sign on the waterfront. Fortunately, we ran into Kerry Gelmi and her daughter Victoria - lovely to catch up, and of course, have our own photographer! Just a few days shy of our 2 year anniversary of getting married on the waterfront there, it was a perfect kodak moment! We also ran into Chris Davis and Jeffery Jones, then Janet de Boer and Sue Holmes!

Worn out again, we refreshed ourselves with another delicious Great White (wheat beer) at Mac's before heading to siesta.
Almost reluctant to get out of bed, I began to apply the glitter to myself and to Matt - dipping the ends of his moustache in it - looked fab - and packing a spare pair of shooz for the after party. Don't worry, they were ridiculous too!

We caught a cab down to the Foxglove - first ones there - then it was time to go. Once installed in the seats I decided yes, we WILL have an overpriced bubbles each, and settled in. Knowing there would be a rush on the toilets after the show, I popped out during the Illumination Section, took my shooz off and bolted across the other side and back.
And then, the Awards. I will be truthful and admit that I was disappointed to place second in the WETA Workshop section - Spike had just looked SO good moving around on stage! At least I lost to Fifi Colston, and her wonderful piece The Organ Farmer! Ah yes, see the joy in my face for her here, top left!! Hilarity!
The Organ Farmer by Fifi Colston
I didn't expect Freyja to place, as she is very pretty, and that does not usually bode well.
A quick shoe change and it was on to the after party at Dockside to drown our sorrows with free-flowing champagne, delicious nooms, and awesome 80's music. I think we left around 2am....
The next day we made it the final Designer function, but it was really more awkward standing-around-talking-to-strangers and I just couldn't take any more, so we headed off early to Mac's for a brekky before the infamous post-show recovery! Someone took some awesome pics of me trying to punch Fifi!
As that all broke up and we said our final goodbyes, it was back to the Foxglove for the ol' married couple, and another Red Lady or two, getting some photos taken by some ladies who had lunched long and hard, and were off to the show that night!

As we walked home we found the International Food court, and picked up a room picnic.
Sunday morning, hatching an egg on the wharf... 
Sunday morning was another beautiful day, and we headed down to the produce markets behind TePapa - I was thrilled to see what I call the 'Fish Show' - fisherman selling the morning's catch off their boat and scaling and slicing to order.  A walk up to Cuba Street, and another reunion with Chris & Jeff on our way to cheesy noms - a three cheese tart and some bubbles for me! It was just too cold in the gorgeous courtyard to last, so we moved inside to eat, and it was probably best for us that they forgot our parmesan & truffle fries!! A trip to Wellington isn't a trip without a visit to the textile oriented bookshop Minerva, which then required a trip back to base to deposit purchases. With the hotel restaurant of such good quality, we thought we should also check out the rooftop bar, which was very funky!

Sadly, we got the warning that rain was on the way in, so we scuttled downstairs. It didn't really hit though, so we headed out for a long walk around town before ending up at the Polo Club for dinner.
Monday was a good day to be leaving - wet, cold, and windy!! We caught a cab down to TePapa and visited the amazing Gallipoli exhibition, constructed by the WETA Workshop - first time for me, at least the fourth for Matt! Another exhibit had a simulation of an earthquake in a house - terrifying!! As we were driven to the airport, I made the mistake of looking at airoplanes taking off, and flopping around like kites in the fierce winds - gulp!! Luckily, we were quite early, and by the time we left it wasn't too bad.
So there it is. The WOW pilgrimage over for another, the ninth, year.
Today I ended up at TAFE to be interviewed for ABC news, in conjunction with the Jimmy Choo Symposium being held there this week, which I have been invited to attend. I ended up being filmed by the brother of Vicky Robertson, of WOW fame, who I had been hanging out with all weekend - small world!!
I had absolutely no idea I would also be filmed dressing a model with my 2012 WOW entry, which will be worn at one of the fashion parades during the 5 days of events, nor that my feet and shoes would be filmed! So that will fill the WOW gap this week.....!!

Friday 1 September 2017

Wearable Art Wooooooowwww!!

Above: Practice painting, gridded up from original design
Below:Photoshop design

Of course, I am wearing the
regulation closed-in shoes and
high-vis vest. Not.
Day 1: On arrival at my Traffic Signal Box (TSB), I was a little daunted, but busied myself with setting up my work area including drop sheets, and foldable traffic cones. I really appreciated having my practice painting with me. Not only was it a great reference point for me, one that was large and wouldn't blow away, but I think it was a great help in showing people what my plans were, and engaging them from the start of the process.  After two coats of undercoat, I was able to grid up the box as per my practice work, although the measurements were a bit out from the template - I wish I had done an actual measurement of the box, and converted my grid measurements prior to being on site!

When I started to block in some colours, I found that the brushes I had bought for the job were horribly scratchy, and I that I could not mix purple out of the supplied reds and blues for love nor money - only a murky grey lavender!
Day 2: After an early start to go via Bunnings and pick up some sneaky purple paint, I was disappointed that the Bunnings Breakfast (sausage sizzle) has not even started - I was counting on that!! Much public appreciation with doots and thumbs up, and a lovely man pulls up, introduces himself, and offers his donation to the arts - $50. I was overwhelmed. That will go towards replacing some of my good brushes that I brought today - thank you sir! I packed up early, fearing rain, but was also exhausted by the wind and blinded by the sun. Whilst waiting for pick up, I choked on a tin of tuna, and enjoyed a wee bag of chips from a lovely Indian lady whose child's birthday it was, so she had many treats on board!
Day 3:  Saturday - a very productive and lovely day, but afterwards,  I crashed out on the couch in the afternoon for a few hours!! The paint is really sticky and dries so quickly on the palette, even though I put only a little out at a time. Because I paint by mixing colours on the brush a lot - I need a bit of every colour, then struggle to use it all up in time, but do my best to make sure the majority gets on the box as at least an under-colour!
Day 4: Monday, was the longest stint of painting, from 8-4, but I took some proper breaks, which made a difference. ! One bus driver stopped at the lights opened his door, dashed over to stand in it, and say how great it is. I enjoyed a mime with another, who gave me smiles and thumbs up etc, and I mimed how tired I was, and he reciprocated. I feel very much a part of the BCC community! Two children, a brother and sister, who I have seen several times before, are amazed at todays progress, say it's very pretty, and he marvels at the small eyes I have put on my figure - unlike all the massive doll-like eyes usually seen - interesting.

Day 5: Friday - just the finishing touches today, and the signature. A fellow TSB painter - or perhaps I should say alumni, after 20+ boxes - stops to compliment my work and chat. More waves from BCC bus drivers! Finally I finish, and sign the box as StudioSvenja, so any interest can be directed here. It's been a great experience, and a valuable extension of my practice.

Wearable Art Woooooow draws on experiences in the local area. For many years I have studied fashion at the TAFE college just up the hill. On a study tour to Japan where we participated in an illustration class at BUNKA College, I designed the front wearable art piece, based on siamese fighting fish. On the back of the box is imagery from my entry into the 2017 Wearable Art Mandurah competition, which had an Oceania theme, and featured shibori shaping. On one side of the box is our beloved cat Mishka, who spent many a night (and Daddy spent many a dollar!) at the Creek Road cat Clinic. He also had a very distinctive meow, which was a very piercing WOOOOOOWWWWW!!