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11 Australian Designers Announced as WOW Finalists

1 August 2012

11 Australian Designers Announced as 2012 Brancott Estate WOW Finalists

Eleven designers from across Australia have been selected as finalists for this year’s prestigious New Zealand Brancott Estate World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show.

The Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show now into its 24th year is New Zealand’s single largest arts show, with more than 50,000 show goers from around the world attending every year. This year, in a breathtaking two-hour spectacular of art, theatre, dance, and music, 164 incredible designs will be brought to life on stage. The 2012 show season in Wellington, New Zealand runs from 27th September to 7th October.

WOW Competition Director Heather Palmer says Australia has once again presented a strong contingent of new and returning designers.

“Our Australian finalists have come from across the country; The Blue Mountains, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Queensland,” Palmer says. “Every year, Australian designers impress the WOW judges with their innovative use of materials including plastic chopping boards, tapa cloth, tooth picks, camping mats, felted wool and one costume featuring an abundance of handmade dolls.”

Palmer says that overall 164 world-class costumes have been selected as finalists in this year’s Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show.

“The exceptionally high standard of entries from around the globe confirms WOW’s place as a world-leading awards show,” Palmer says. “This year’s judges say that the successful finalists have provided fresh ideas, a mix of edginess and sensitivity, and innovative approaches to section themes. The use of materials and construction techniques across the board is also quite incredible. There is the use of electronics, taxidermy, synthetic and human hair, wood, and almost every fabric and textile you can imagine.”

WOW Founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff says the Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show creative team is thrilled to be collaborating with an exciting mix of musical and dance talent this year.

“For the first time ever, New Zealand composer Gareth Farr has joined the WOW creative team to orchestrate and compose the Gen-i Creative Excellence Visual Symphony section, based on the costumes selected as finalists in this section,” Dame Suzie says. “WOW also welcomes members of the talented Vector Wellington Orchestra, who will perform in this section.

“As with every Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show, dance is a very important part of the
show and long-standing WOW dance partners, Footnote Dance Company and the New Zealand
School of Dance will again perform,” Dame Suzie says.

“We have also engaged with 40 independent professional dancers this year, which is the largest number of dancers ever seen in a WOW show.

“We also feel very privileged to welcome leading New Zealand choreographers Michael Parmenter and Tanemahuta Gray,” she says. “Michael is choreographing one of the dance sequences in the American Express Open Section, and Tanemahuta is choreographing the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section,” she says. “This year’s show promises to be ‘Out of This World.’”

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BACKGROUND

The 2012 Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show Story to date:

The first round of judging was held on 7th and 8th July at WOW’s Nelson headquarters by WOW Founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff and guest judges, Auckland artist Gregor Kregar and Christchurch fashion designer Takaaki Sakaguchi. Sir Richard Taylor will join the judges for the two final judging rounds in September, when the section winners and the overall Supreme winner will be decided.

Highlights from Australia in the Brancott Estate WOW Awards 2012…

Milada Adams from Mermaid Beach says she was inspired by Jurassic Park to create her entry ‘Velociraptor’ – a finalist in the American Express Open Section. She says that her creation brought chaos to her life, which is true to character for this dinosaur. “The whole apartment is a disaster zone.” The costume is eligible for four awards: its category and the ‘First Time’ entrant, ‘Environment’ and ‘International’ awards.

Expat New Zealander Kerry Gelmi who is now living in Bunbury recreated her links with her homeland with her entry ‘The Way Back Home,’ a finalist in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section. The textile artist says the piece, made from 100% merino wool felt, is a complete journey from the farm gate to the catwalk. The costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘Environment’ and ‘International’ awards.

In the Geni-i Creative Excellence Section, sculptor Erica Gray from Sorrento presents WOW with the ‘Shaker Suit,’ created with PVC polyfibre, lycra, plastic, and metal. The designer says the suit is “a play on sound and cheeky humour… a joy to see it dance across the stage in a ballistic manner.” The costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘First Time’ entrant and ‘International’ awards.

An entry from firefighter/photographer Paul Hagger living in Coorparoo explores the dark side that lurks within us all. ‘Dark Prelude’ is a finalist in the American Express Open Section, created using ribbon wire, pens, and heat shrink tubing, it represents “the little white lie we all possess in our hearts.” The costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘First Time’ entrant and ‘International’ categories.

The ‘Gate-Keeper Hinenuitepo’ is another finalist in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section, created by Lesley Marsh a Library Officer from Broome. Hinenuitepo is called the Goddess of the Dead, but she is misunderstood – her role is to protect and care for lost spirits. The costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘Environment’ and ‘International’ awards.

‘Shoreling,’ a finalist in the Gen-i Creative Excellence Section, was inspired by sea shells, volutas, molluscs, and dentaliums collected on the shore in Canada. Artist Evelyn Roth now lives on Maslin Beach, an environment reflected in the movements and sounds of ‘Shoreling.’ The costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘Environment’ and ‘International’ awards.

Textile teacher Christine White from Canberra is a finalist in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section, with her entry ‘Piki Piki.’ Created from tapa cloth and plastic chopping boards, the piece is inspired by the Tongan phrase ‘Piki Piki Hama Vae Vae Manaua’ – Hold on to the outrigger. This symbolises life balance. The costume is a collaboration with Bonnie Begg and the costume is eligible for three awards: its category and the ‘Environment’ and ‘International’ awards.

Returning WOW designer, Svenja from Hawthorne, Queensland, used fibreglass, monofilament, and metal leaf to create her entry in the Gen-i Creative Excellence Section. ‘Euphony Iridaceae’ references Green mythology, morphing the contours of a gilded harp with the exotic Iris flower. The Administration Manager describes the piece as “part gleaming, metallic, musical creature, and part ethereal, exotic flower.” The costume was a collaboration with Matt Pettigrew, and is eligible for a category award and an ‘International’ award.

Artist/teacher Sadhana Peterson from Hazelbook in the Blue Mountains challenged herself to make her love of pottery, textiles, and found objects into wearable art, and created ‘Sea Shells’ – a finalist in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section. She wrapped hundreds of toothpicks in wire and beads, and mixed these elements with pottery, silk, and paint. The costume is also eligible for an ‘International’ award.

Philippa Stitchbury and her costume ‘Haere Mai’ is a finalist in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section. The expat New Zealander living in Melbourne, heard a version of the ‘Haere Mai’ song played at the World of Wearable Arts show in 2011. The piece embodies welcome and homecoming. Created with tapestry, handmade dolls, fabric and beads, ‘Haere Mae’ reflects Maori legend and custom, and the colours of the New Zealand native bush. The costume is also eligible for two additional awards for being a ‘First Time’ entrant and an ‘International’ designer.

Textile artist Catherine O’Leary from Melbourne explores how shapes can be transformed in the process of being worn, with her piece ‘Storm in a D-Cup.’ The finalist in the Bizarre Bra section says she was inspired by the way telescopes and piano accordions work. She used felted merino wool, wire, and plastic boning to create her entry, which is eligible for the category award, and an ‘International’ award.

The following is a snapshot of the 164 finalist costumes (by 168 designers) in the 2012 Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show:

106 of the finalist costumes are by designers from all over New Zealand, and 58 of the finalist costumes are by international designers.
There are 36 student finalists (New Zealand and international combined), with the majority (14) of them presenting costumes in the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section.
75 finalists are first time entrants.
28 of the costumes are designed collaboratively by two or more designers.
2012 marks the return of the Bizarre Bra category, which is included every second year.
The seven 2012 Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show categories are:
The Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section this year is the largest section. Avant Garde is where art and fashion collide! Designers are asked to create a wearable work of art that is revolutionary, extravagant and extrovert, but still stylish and made with skill. Designers are driven by dreams and fantasies, not commercial reality or the usual restrictions of fashion.
The American Express Open Section is also substantial this year. This section has no thematic boundaries, giving designers complete freedom in concept, construction and materials. This section encourages a high degree of originality and innovation.
The Gen-i Creative Excellence Section’s theme this year is Visual Symphony. Designers were asked to design a work of art that makes sound. Now that the finalists have been chosen, each piece will be choreographed to a music score composed especially for this section. Each costume will have its moment within the music score on the stage, which will be microphoned to amplify the costumes sound, e.g. the costume becomes an instrument/sound within the music composition creating an interesting soundscape.
The Children's Section theme this year is “Conceal and Reveal”. Designers were asked to create a costume of anything they wanted as long as it transformed with an element of surprise.
2012 is the alternate year of The Bizarre Bra® Section. Though normally hidden, the bra has shown itself in past Brancott Estate WOW Awards Shows to provide highly creative and witty reinventions, and this year is no different.
The Air New Zealand South Pacific Section is a beautiful section. Designers have gathered inspiration from New Zealand’s rich Maori culture or other cultures of our South Pacific neighbours. Costumes celebrate what it is like to live in New Zealand and the South Pacific – the sea, beach, flora, fauna, birds, insects and the wide and wonderful personalities of our unique cultures.
The CentrePort Illumination Illusion Section has no thematic boundaries, giving the designer complete freedom of concept to create a work of art in another dimension that glows under ultra violet light.
2012 Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show creative partners are:
Composer and musician, Gareth Farr

Gareth Farr was born in Wellington, beginning his studies in composition and percussion performance at Auckland University, Victoria University, and later the Eastman School of Music in New York. He has been commissioned to write music for many high-profile events including the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the opening of Te Papa, and the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, and Beijing 2008. In 2006 Gareth was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was the recipient of an Arts Foundation Laureate award in 2010. He has composed music for over 30 theatre productions, and has been awarded three Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for Outstanding Composer of Original Music. Gareth was also commissioned to write music for the 2011 Rugby World Cup opening ceremony and games. He is currently lecturer of Graduate Studies in Advanced Orchestration at the NZ School of Music.

Choreographer, Michael Parmenter

Michael Parmenter is synonymous with bold and innovative contemporary dance in New Zealand, where he has created some of his most challenging and exciting theatrical works. Parmenter began choreographing whilst a student at the National School of Ballet, with five major works emerging from his first decade of dance, developing his dance skills in New Zealand, New York and Japan. He later established his own dance company, Commotion, and choreographed for other companies including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Footnote Dance Company, whilst continuing his work as a solo artist. In 1998 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).
Choreography, Tanemahuta Gray
Tanemahuta Gray graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1994 Having created and staged his first work in 1997, Te Ao Hurihuri—The Changing World, he shifted to London in 1998, where he performed for De La Guarda, one of the world’s leading aerial theatre companies, traveling over five years to Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Berlin, Seoul and Sydney. Tane has directed 16 Productions and Events and performed in two kapa haka national competitions for Ngati Pooneke. He directed and produced Maui One Man Against The Gods over four separate seasons nationwide, and two Manawatu regional events called the Elements Carnival in both outdoor and arena set ups was Artistic Director for Arohanui - The Greatest Love (produced by Te Matatini for the Rugby World Cup in 2011), and is a co-curater/director of the Kowhiti Festival.

Footnote Dance Company
Founded by Deirdre Tarrant, Footnote Dance has been a significant part of the dance experience for thousands of Kiwis for the past 25 years. Footnote has at its heart a determination to create a secure, sustainable professional company of excellent dancers who can respond to the innovation and ideas of contemporary choreographers wanting to communicate through the most universal art form - dance. Footnote runs Dance-in-Education programmes that travel from Whangarei to Winton, and presents touring seasons in theatres throughout the country.
Vector Wellington Orchestra

The Vector Wellington Orchestra (VWO) plays an extensive role in the cultural life of Wellington City and the wider region, performing for up to 100,000 people each year. Every year the VWO presents its own series of up to five subscription concerts in Wellington and the lower North Island. Fostering young people's enjoyment of music is another one of the orchestra's important contributions to the region through entertaining concerts to pre-school and primary school children and families.

New Zealand School of Dance

The Wellington-based New Zealand School of Dance is one of the Southern Hemisphere's leading dance conservatoires, training the professional dancers of tomorrow. Established in 1967, the New Zealand School of Dance celebrates 45 years this year. The New Zealand School of Dance is well connected to the dance community through secondments, visiting guest teachers and choreographers, competitions, professional networks and the ambassadorial role of its graduates.
ends

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