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. 

7 comments: said...

Well done Fifi and a lovely posting about the spirit of the event putting the act of creating as the main prize and the prize as a surprise.

Maureen Crisp said...

I agree with Maggie about your comment on the spirit of the event. It is the joy of the creation that is the prize...everything after is the bonus....But what a high standard you have set for anyone else...17 times finalist...among the winners more than once...You are a legend!

Rachael King said...

Fifi, this is a gorgeous tribute to Dora and to Magpie Hall. I went to the show last night with my step-mother in law and her daughters and we had great seats so got to see it up close. The women I was with yelled out "yay Rachael" when your placing was announced and I had to point out to them I didn't actually MAKE it.

Well done, very well deserved and the show itself was better than I had ever imagined (helped by the vaudeville/carnivale type theme of course!).

carole brungar said...

A big congrats Fifi!! Sending my vote along :)

Melinda Szymanik said...

you were hands down the best entry for depth and layers of meaning. What an amazing talent you are. I am very honoured to have been able to contribute.

we definitely need a wine marinated debriefing next time :)

Vanda Symon said...

You wonderful imagination always amazes me, let alone the fact you have the skills to create what you envisage in such a vibrant and beautiful form. Congratulations!

thinkingorange said...

Well done Fifi - looks fab !