“Off the Wall” is a visual extravaganza of 30 wearable works of art.


Rattle Your Dags – Paula Coulthard and Ursula Dixon

The exhibition, which runs at the Waikato Museum until August 4, is a celebration of the amazing World of WearableArt  (WOW)  annual show.   Don’t expect to see commercially viable garments in this display.  But be prepared to be wowed.  The ingenuity and talent of these designers leaves you awestruck.  How did they dream up such creations and then make them so they could be worn?

The exhibition celebrates WOW 25 birthday this year.    Forget fabric, these garments are made from plastic, suitcases, copper, brass, aluminium, in fact any material, as well as beautiful fabrics.   One cannot help but be amazed at the imagination and patience of the talented creators who put together these incredible eye-catching garments, that make audiences gasp WOW every time a new garment swirls on stage.

I have a special interest in  WOW – in my previous life as fashion editor of the New Zealand Herald, Suzie (now Dame Suzie) Moncrieff phoned from Nelson and said she was planning a wearable art show, and would I be interested in writing an article in the hope that designers/artists would be encouraged to enter.  I thought her concept sounded interesting, interviewed her and the article was published.  I never thought that almost 26 years on, she would be planning the silver anniversary show and that the show would become so popular internationally, she would have to move it from Nelson to Wellington. This year’s season starts on September 26. The show attracts entry from around the world and has its own museum in Nelson.

Even if you’ve been lucky enough to be blown away by attending the show once or many times, the current exhibition is still a show stopper.  You can get up very close to the exhibit and appreciate the workmanship and dedication of these winning entries.   A computer screen also allows you to scroll across the screen and watch the  garment on the stage set and see an interview with the designer.  “Off the Wall” exhibition goes to Palmerston North after Hamilton.

And when your head is overwhelmed with the fantasy of it all, head off for coffee in the neighbourhood – my top three choices are:   Scotts Epicurean and River Kitchen, both in Victoria St  or if you have transport or happy to walk for 10 minutes via the Victoria bridge, go to Mavis & Co, on corner of Bridge and Grey Street.  Well worth the walk.

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