Sunday, September 26, 2010


“The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.” Eli Khamarov

So, now that the World of Wearable Arts spectacular is showing and my artful cat is out of its bag, I can finally tell you about my entry, Lady Curiosity, which won 3rd place in the Avant Garde section on Friday night. I'd also like to say that there are no givens with this competition, so I enter each year from the love of the idea I want to impart, not from an expectation of winning something- because the minute you create from that part of your brain, you sink into an unattractive swamp of greed, pride, envy and anger when you don't get up on that stage. That I got to go up there myself was a joy and given my competition, a great acknowledgement. There is a huge talent pool of artists in WOW.

So, to my entry- the 17th one over 15 years, all of them in show.This was my rationale submitted with the garment way back in June when the deadline for entries is nigh...

Lady Curiosity

Her tattooing is of itself a beautiful dress, and her collection full of wonders.

Tattooed ladies were a popular circus attraction of the late 19th century; a peep show within a freak show. But it was not only performers who took to the art; ladies of society indulged too.
When I read New Zealand author, Rachael King’s novel  Magpie Hall I was inspired by her Victorian gothic elements of tattoos, taxidermied collections and a possible flayed woman. A Cabinet of Curiosities and its odd contents was something the fated Dora in the book had to contend with. Ultimately it was to be her downfall … her Memento Mori (you HAVE to read this book!)

I created the cabinet with the well known mirror box illusion known amongst magicians. Where is the lady’s middle? She is merely full of curiosities in jars. The botanical illustrations are from Vintage Printable, the cabinet illustrations from ‘A Century of NZ Trademarks’.  Her tattoos come from all over, some from friends, others referenced from Sailor Jerry, the famous tattooist of his time who created blueprints for hundreds of flash designs. The heart tattoo in the middle of Dora’s breast belongs to a writer I know- it seemed appropriate that the story should begin with one author and end with another.

*Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember you must die". It names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely from one another, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality.

So if you like what I did and want a chance to win some great prizes for yourself, vote for my piece in the Dominion Post People’s Choice at  or text WOW Lady Curiosity to 3100 (costs .20c)

And now...back to work. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of fame and fortune

Well, I’ve done the unimaginable; I have got a full time job.  10 hours a day at a location in Wellington where I actually get paid to do something I was trained for- illustration.

This is amazing to me, because the very nature of the life as an illustrator is freelance and a little precarious. That is not to say that this role won’t be either- I’m working on pre-production for a movie and for as long as it takes or as long as they need me, I will be there, pencil and wacom tablet in hand . This is solace to me after a year where everything workwise I tried to instigate seemed to come to nothing and increasingly people expected me to give generously of my working hours for free. Not that I don’t like to be philanthropic you understand… but this recession has hit our household particularly badly and I just can’t do it anymore.

So, whilst I can’t tell you what I am drawing, post pictures of my work or tell you who I meet, I can say it feels wonderful to be fully employed in the creative arts on a daily basis. I fully expect there will be a time where I yearn to hole up in my studio, talk to no-one and get on with my other pursuits; the two novels half finished that possibly no-one will want to publish when they are done, the picture book ideas that need further work that possibly (repeat the previous line), the painting collections that possibly (repeat again), the e-book on creativity that possibly (yawn…) you see the pattern? But for now, I’ve stopped facebooking obsessively, expending energy on committees to further other’s careers, tweeting, emailing and wondering why it is that I have even less paying freelance work than ever.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in getting your work out there and seeing your name in print, but there is even more in buying groceries and paying the power bill. I am very happy for now to put aside fame for fortune.

In the meantime (and I did say I’d be talking about WOW obsessively for the next two weeks), go and check out my 2005 piece from WOW, Sophia’s Story, at Ora in Allen Street. And whilst you are there, I recommend you have something from their wonderful cafĂ©- great coffee, great gluten free food and all around you, great New Zealand art. See, the promosexual side of me hasn’t left the room completely!