Students add a little wow factor to Te Papa Store

Students add a little wow factor to Te Papa Store

Every year the team at the World of WearableArt™ encourages retailers around Wellington to take part in the annual World of World of WearableArt™ Window Dressing Competition. From 22 September – 7 October 2014 you can be the judge and cast your vote for the best window in town! Simply visit to cast your vote [competition now closed].

Each year Te Papa Store takes part in the festivities in collaboration with students from Wellington High School and Queen Margaret’s College. This year the students were invited to create garments inspired by a collection of  magic lantern slides featuring the story of Alice in Wonderland, and to work with banner canvas as an unconventional material.

Alice in Wonderland magic lantern slide. W. Butcher & Sons from the illustrations of John Tenniel, c. 1900. Te Papa

A couple of weeks ago Lissa Mitchell, Curator of Historical Photography and author of a number of blogs on the slides, and myself were invited to Wellington High School by Kylie Merrick to see what her students had made of these beautiful images. Each student had chosen a single slide – a single scene – for their inspiration. Christoph chose this image of Alice with the hookah-smoking Caterpillar and the mushroom as the inspiration for the design of both his dress and fabric.

Aiming to replicate the gills of a mushroom, Christoph laboriously hand-smocked a heavy cotton to make the skirt, dying it with both a commercial dye and tea, and manipulated plastic bags to give the skirt of mushroom cap effect. For the bodice, Christoph took the above image and segmented it, to create an abstract fabric design.

Christoph s final design and material samples.
Christoph’s final design and material samples.

Sheryl chose the slide below, which features Alice with a Griffin and Turtle. As with Christoph she also created a fabric design based on the imagery in the slide, and translated aspects of the image into her overall dress design, including hand-carving discarded clarinet and saxophone reeds into Griffin-like feathers to adorn the shoulders of her gown, and creating a cage-like skirt made from slides.

Sheryl’s final design.

On Monday 15 September Christoph and Sheryl installed their finished works – the results of hours of painstaking work –  in the windows of the Te Papa Store. We hope you enjoy them.

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While you are perusing the windows of Te Papa Store don’t forget to pop up to Level 4 to see The WOW Factor: 25 years in the making.  The exhibition runs at Te Papa until 2 November, and features a range of new garments to intrigue and delight.

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