Monday, September 5, 2011

Christchurch Arts Still Wearable...

Flight NZ486 from Christchurch to Wellington last Saturday was crammed full of giddy middle aged woman drunk on freedom and the thought of firm terra firma in the nation’s capital.

The reason; WOW! World of Wearable Arts, inaugurated about the same time as the Rugby World Cup, originating in Nelson then being shipped off to Wellington in 2005. The show draws entries and wins from all around the globe and runs for three weeks concluding September 10.

As a first timer for this event, curious as to its allure, an invitation in February (one needs to book early) was accepted. Seven months later we embarked on our big day out. Hotels were booked for an overnighter and bank accounts cleaned out in anticipation of excellent shopping opportunities.

Arrival with hand luggage only, assisted in a smooth transition to the city streets after dumping the aforementioned bags unceremoniously at the hotel. An economic shuttle did a great job in shuttling us at a low cost deep into the heart of the CBD with bone rattling speed.

With precision timing and the instinct of well honed consumers we moved gracefully throughout the web of streets systematically emptying large amounts of cash from our bank accounts and wallets on material items from the array of shops primed and ready for the onslaught of out of towners. The streets groaned under the pressure of groups of well heeled woman babbling and celebrating their shopping successes. Like drug addicts after a well anticipated fix, the Christchurch contingent easily distinguishable by their sated glazed over gaze.

Budgets blown we headed back to the hotel to regroup before the big night out. Again spoilt by choice of restaurants we didn’t miss the opportunity to partake at one of the many on offer. A quick and cheap taxi ride later and we were deposited in our high heels that were for looks only, at the conveniently located Queens Wharf Arena to attend the extravaganza known as the WOW!

The show began the minute you entered. Filing into the arena the buzz was immediate. Actors dressed in costumes performed about you as you collected your STAR package ($175/seat) which entitled you to great viewing seats, a picnic bag of well appointed food and beverages that could easily have constituted a full meal had you not already eaten. The fold down seat was initially comfortable but after two hours played havoc with my vertebrae which thankfully was mildly anaesthetised by the complimentary champers.

The show kicked off at 8pm. A central stage area was used to manoeuvre the variety of acts up, down and aerially with up to five mini catwalks extending from the centre for the competitors to showcase their entries. Elaborate sub shows battled for your attention with the entries systematically visiting every catwalk so you eventually saw each one up close.

The seven categories were themed accordingly with appearances and references to the Christchurch plight highlighted with the aid of David McPhail and Ginette McDonald in their farm based slot which included live roosting chickens, a flock of subdued sheep and a farm dog who looked like they had all just sauntered straight out of a local petting zoo, well behaved after two weeks of performance.

The largely over forty five female crowd were well stereotyped with an unexpected but gratefully received appearance by John Rowles who almost crooned the knickers straight off their middle aged bottoms.

Ballet dancers, opera singers and a gaggle of brides pirouetted, postulated and pranced about the stage at varying intervals thrilling the crowd repeatedly with their professional displays of talent.

The entries weren’t all too bad either. Intricacy and simplicity shared the stage with ornate structures including large steel tubes intersecting at meticulous angles over the female form, fully hand knitted pieces swathing another and seemingly ordinary pieces that could have easily have been camouflaged on any suburban street. A scantily clad youth in an Adam from the Garden of Eden inspired piece stole the show in the men’s section with a particularly fetching stomach undulating routine that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Overall a spectacular event worth taking your mother, daughter, friends or workmates to once in your and their lifetimes.

The returning flight NZ479 was visibly subdued. Only a handful of revellers with the stamina of university students remained. They could just be heard yahooing above the gentle hum of snoring from the majority of weekenders.

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