The countdown is on to the day Anna Potton-Grapes’ wearable art is revealed to the world.
The Sacred Heart College textiles teacher is a finalist in the architecture section of the World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards, returning to Wellington after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.
Over 100 designers from 20 countries are keenly anticipating awards night on 30 September, including Anna, and the only other Hawke’s Bay finalist, Kate MacKenzie.
This is the first time Anna has had a full garment selected. She did have a piece in the Bizarre Bra category in 2018.
Anna will be stage side for the awards, and says it’s the fulfilment of a life-long dream.
“There is nothing more special than the moment when you see your garment on the stage, when you haven't seen it in months and all your hard work has paid off. It's such a proud moment and you also feel proud of all the other contestants as you know how much work has gone into their designs too.”
Anna feels the key to a successful garment is to find the balance between aesthetic and functionality.
“I get my inspiration from everyday objects around me. I am forever looking at things not for what they are but what qualities they could potentially have.”
It took a couple of years to source the materials she wanted to use this time. One was a discontinued product, so she had to hunt down the last remaining stock in NZ and overseas.
Once the materials have been gathered, Anna works out the design as she goes along. The narrative of the garment changes as she adds to it, she says, until it “becomes what it's supposed to be”.
“Once I feel there is no longer anything missing, that's when I'm finished. It's always got a meaningful underlying story to it.”
Her wish to create wonderful garments worthy of WOW stemmed from her art teacher Mr Dennis Pierce, at Feilding High School, which ran Wearable Art events.
Anna and fellow students would also be entered as a class in the wearable art ShowQuest events. They created garments, painted them, then performed in them.
“He encouraged us to think outside the box to create avant garde garments. I found this liberating and the more bizarre your concept, the more he encouraged it.”
Now Anna is passing on her knowledge and experience to other students.
She had been teaching English but decided to change things up. She completed a Diploma of Creative Practice at EIT in 2018, followed by a Diploma of Fashion the following year.
She has been teaching Textiles at all year levels at Sacred Heart College since 2020.
In Year 11, students begin to learn how to edit patterns to fit their bodies and by Year 13, they are drafting their own patterns and turning their designs into reality, says Anna.
“It's wonderful to watch their concepts come to life.”
22 September 2022
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