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Taralee’s work WOWs the judges

Wairarapa can hold its own on the global stage, scooping a coveted prize at one of the most fiercely contested and anticipated World of Wearable Arts [WOW] shows.
After a run of devastating covid cancellations, the team led by local Taralee Freeman, and Wellington-based Marie Wright, and Zach McDonald-Wright returned to the art extravaganza for the first time in three years, taking out the second place prize in their category.
More than 100 finalists from 20 countries were celebrated in last night’s awards show, with the Supreme WOW Award going to Hawke’s Bay artist Kate MacKenzie for the second time.
Speaking to the Times-Age before the event Freeman said it would be the first time she and fellow designers had seen their piece since 2020.
“It’s funny, you work feverishly up until the show, even now we know that 2023 is coming up.
“Originally it would have gone on stage in 2020, then we all geared to go again in 2021.
“We have had a little bit of a reprieve.”
She said, however, that the process never stopped, with the designers constantly searching, working and brainstorming ideas once the categories were revealed.
“It’s about the journey and pushing yourself as designers and artists and being open to another direction.”
Freeman said the piece, a striking, regal-like design, was ultimately entered into the Elizabethan Era category.
“We thought we were going into Architecture, and we didn’t. Every time we have allowed our pieces to talk to us.
“The three of us always look to what our piece is saying, rather than what we are saying.”
She said the piece was made from a variety of materials, including vintage and tissue paper, custom jewellery, metal and speciality foam.
“[The foam] is when it all comes together and that’s when the magic happens.”
Freeman said that as the lead designer in the team, she was representing Wairarapa at last night’s awards.
“We are a small fish in this big pond with very talented artists.
“We haven’t seen our creation in so long. I don’t quite know how to feel. I’m just really honoured to be a part of an amazing show.”
Freeman said she wanted to encourage more people to enter WOW.
“The arts are all about connection. And there is just so much talent here in Wairarapa.”
WOW launched on Thursday night at Wellington’s TSB Arena and will run for three weeks until October 16.
WOW competition director Heather Palmer said after an ‘incredibly long time’ the designers’ garments were finally getting their moment to shine.
“To see the passion, innovation, and dedication of this year’s finalists is incredibly affirming.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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