This week, museum Visitor Experience Creator, Mandy Brooke, talks about a garment made especially for the 2008 Wearable Art Awards. But the garment, a gown, was not accepted as it did not stand out enough on stage. Made by Daniella Sasvari Markovits, a Hungarian immigrant to New Zealand, it has since won the Taranaki Arts Award, the Wearable Advertising competition for the House of Art and Framing and was worn by the NZ contestant in the Miss Teen World Beauty Pageant.
It was gifted to the museum in 2010 and was on display on a mannequin in the green room during the museum’s Colours exhibition. So why did Mandy choose this gown to show us? “It was made in 2008 but it’s the idea that we make history all the time,” she says.
The gown is called New Zealand in My Eyes and represents the landscape around Wanganui. Using applique technique and layers of fabric, the front of the gown features earth colours with a jewelled tree on the bodice. There’s a transition to a more realistic landscape on the back where we see paddocks, fences and sheep, a predominance of green and, again, a jewelled tree on the upper back. The beadwork is detailed and intricate, using reflected light to add dimension to the work. It is art, of that there is no doubt. It is also wearable and has been worn where the world could see it. What better gallery for such a work of art?
“I love the colours; I love the landscapes,” says Mandy, “I love that it’s fabric turned into art.” Mandy makes things herself and at the moment is setting up programmes in the museum so children can also ‘make things’.
Even though the gown is relatively new, it has enough history to have earned itself a place in the museum. Daniella is still creating for wearable art, and gifting this gem to the museum has ensured its preservation and occasional display. It’s the best place for such a fragile work of art. “Fabric clothing needs special care,” says Mandy, and the museum is equipped to provide it.
Original article appeared in the Wanganui Midweek in June 2010. Reproduced with permission from the Publishers.
Mandy is no longer working at the Whanganui Regional Museum.