Monday 26 September 2022

Meeting and Molesting fellow WOW designers

In honour of WOW opening this week for it's 33rd? show after a two-year hiatus, I present a memory of meeting and sometimes molesting fellow designers over the eleven years I participated. Designer Days and the shows grew into a really fun experience as more and more of us became repeat offenders - you can almost track this in the photos as they get blurrier and fuzzier towards the end! Wishing all the designers a fabulous WOW experience this year, from Svenja &Matt.


Thursday 8 September 2022

Paracosm Exhibition Opening

On the Friday before the exhibition week I started choosing and hauling out the mannequins from the storeroom, then placing them, beginning with the easiest – those that definitely needed space to be seen from all angles, and what should be the most visible from the doorway. 

I decided that one would be Spike, better known as Cordycephila. I began with a male mannequin, but after wrestling most of the bodysuit on, found I couldn’t complete it because of his stance. I tried again with a mannequin with straight legs, wrangling the bodysuit and the main torso piece on, only to find that I couldn’t slide the leg pieces over the giant flat feet! I undressed him, and resorted to a female mannequin who had slimmer, pointed feet. Mostly dressed, I tried to put him on a stand, but couldn’t get it to sit straight. By now it was nearing 5 o’clock, and I had spent several hours on this one work, and I was tempted to leave him on the ground – but I just couldn’t let it beat me. So I rustled up a nice straight, solid stand to hold the substantial weight of Spike and mannequin combined, and voila – I was done. Boy, was I done.

The next week was one of intense labour as I started each day with my powerlifting training before coming straight in to college to work on the exhibition. Mannequins are definitely harder to deal with than humans when it comes to dressing. Their unnatural proportions are challenging when it comes to fitting leggings and bodysuits, and the broad torso of the male mannequin meant I had to stretch out Trophy’s wire hook to secure it. I tried to get as many bottom halves on first as possible! For Fenghuang, Matt had to modify the mannequin by fitting steel rods with the same size knob that slots into the armhole, so they could support the outstretched leather wings. Without Matt doing that, he wouldn’t have looked very good.

I did have to refer to my dressing instructions for a few of them, but remembered most ok. Having got mannequins in place I just had to dress them – I was very eager to see them done. A couple of pieces required a lot of steaming – Fimbria Figura and Fenghuang, who both contained a lot of silk organza. This certainly brought them right back to life. By Wednesday I was pretty done, and got Craig in to position the lights. Although designed as a gallery, the lighting system is um, unusual to say the least. We eventually worked out what colours to use for each quadrant of the space, and how to dim the fluoros to a nice backlight. (However, turns out that you can’t over-ride the automatic movement sensor in them, and when they go to sleep, they come back on at full intensity – goodbye mood lighting!)

I think on Thursday I placed all the signage I could, having finally finished placing all the QR Logos on each one, which when scanned takes you to the webpage with more information, sketches, process photos and videos on the work. These pages remain live on the website, now under Links. I also started to make some serious noises about getting the screens working for the videos and the Artist Statement. Funnily enough, not as easy as some people thought, which is why I always want to get the tech sorted ASAP! By Friday it was all done, and, desperately tired, I had time to go home and eat, and sit on the couch for half an hour before getting ready to return.

Helen had put on a wonderful spread of food and mocktails (sigh, a bubbles-free event) as a fundraiser for her area, the TAFE Foundation, which provides scholarships for students. There was a good amount of people there, including many of the TAFE teachers, and my friends - even a surprise appearance by high-school friend Jodie and daughter!

Janet and Peter arrived early for a studio tour and the application of false eyelashes before speechifying began, and we had to be summonsed to appear at the gallery. Janet’s speech was a wonderful way to provide some context to many people who don’t really know me or my work, and she was of course entertaining as ever. 

Photo above and those below by Charlene Z.

The nine-monitor screen playing videos of my work in performance on the World of WearableArt stage (and one from Wearable Art Mandurah) created a wonderful presence, and I am absolutely thrilled that the videos were provided. For the audience to see the work moving was a wonderful dynamic to the exhibition.

I spoke to as many people as I could – I think my family was probably the most ignored! Then it was home for a sit down and a well deserved drink!