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WearableArt founder receives Honorary Doctorate from Massey

May 28, 2014

Cloak of self-belief helps WearableArt founder to Honorary Doctorate

World of WearableArt founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff, who will be conferred with an honorary doctorate from Massey University tomorrow, says she always believed that WOW was destined to develop into a sustainable arts event on a global scale.

Speaking before tomorrow’s graduation ceremony when she will be conferred with a Doctor of Fine Arts for her contribution to the public in the field of art and design, Dame Suzie says she hopes students take encouragement from her own struggle.

“I could clearly see way back then in 1987 WOW as it is today, and nothing was going to deter me from pursuing that challenge and that dream.”

That year Dame Suzie founded and became the driving force of WOW, an instantly recognisable acronym that is synonymous with innovative off-the-wall art and design interpretations.

“Lessons I learnt in those early years was to listen to your inner voice and be true to yourself - trust yourself and learn to be bold and as persistent as you can and never give up.

“WOW has grown to become an internationally acclaimed, award-winning icon event. It is opulent and offers people the chance to escape from the mundane into a world of colour and creativity. It is unique. It is theatrical, and it’s a showcase of some of the best creative talent from New Zealand and the world. Sixty per cent of our entrants are international and come to compete on our global stage right here in Wellington with our New Zealand designers,” Dame Suzie says.

College Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Claire Robinson says Dame Suzie’s honorary doctorate recognises her outstanding service to arts in New Zealand, her contribution to the economy and the country’s international reputation as well as her ongoing support of creative programmes at Massey University during its heritage year.

“Dame Suzie has been a friend and mentor to creative arts education at Massey for many years. [Among its many contributions] World of WearableArt has sponsored an educational exchange for Massey fashion students with the San Francisco Academy of Art University.”

Head of Fashion at the School of Design, Sue Prescott, says Dame Suzie’s support saw a specific category created within the WOW awards to showcase design students and help boost their visibilty to the wider design industry.

“This has enabled students to push boundaries and produce work of a cross-disciplinary nature in an environment that also showcases practising and professional artists and designers.”

She and Professor Robinson note that Massey students have won top awards at the shows, including Supreme Award winner Nadine Jaggi in 2008, Luka Mues and Loren Shields in 2010, Katie Collier and Sophie Littin in 2011 and the 2012 WOW Factor Award winner Rebecca Maxwell who featured throughout the 2013 WOW promotion campaign.

Dame Suzie says in terms of its design influence, WOW’s reach is spread globally with regular workshops taught at schools and universities previously unfamiliar with the WearableArt concept, from the UK, India, China and the United States.

“What the teachers at these institutions love about WOW is that it encourages the students to be innovative and original.”

It’s a message Dame Suzie plans to impart in her acceptance speech tomorrow.

“Nothing comes without failings, risk or hard work. I worked seven days a week 12 months of the year for many years – WOW became the centre of my universe and a journey that changed my life.”


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