Cleverly Plaid

The little village of Waipu is famous for its welcoming atmosphere, New Zealand’s best small museum, the iconic surf cove a wee bit further down the road – and in recent years, its answer to Wellington’s WOW, the Art n Tartan Wearable Art contest and show.

Scottish heritage is even more evident in July each year when Waipu celebrates Tartan Week – more correctly, Tartan Month – when residents and visitors enjoy four weeks of Scottish events.

The winter festival commemorates the 1792 repeal of the notorious 1752 Act of Proscription which, for 40 years after the Battle of Culloden, forbade the Scots to wear their tartan.  The festival culminates in the now-iconic Art n Tartan Wearable Art Awards, which has been steadily growing in popularity since its inception six years ago.

Artists and designers are invited to create a piece of wearable art containing some element of tartan.  This compulsory inclusion of tartan is the main point of difference from other wearable art shows held in New Zealand.

This year sees the return of Helen Frances as Artistic Director, who will be putting together her fifth show.  As in previous years, Helen will create a kaleidoscope of artwork, music, light and dance, interwoven with myth and magic reflecting the many different cultures of New Zealand.

Also on board will be choreographer Jayden Rudolph, a past pupil of Bream Bay College, now studying Performing Arts at the University of Otago.  Jayden won top prize for his work as Creative Director for the national and regional stage challenge.  He has been involved in one way or another in Art n Tartan since the age of thirteen.

Stage Manager in 2017 will be Waipu farmer Neil Troost, who is vastly experienced in working in theatre and the performing arts.

The Art n Tartan show will be held in Waipu’s magnificent Celtic Barn, is produced by Waipu Museum, and organised by a whole host of dedicated and creative volunteers.

Several new, exciting and inspirational sections have been introduced to fire the imagination of artists and designers.  A Black Light category, Dream World – Weird and Wonderful has been included.  This section asks designers to create an artwork that looks amazing in all forms of illumination.

Another new category, inspired by the famous Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, invites artists to take their theme from this internationally famous collection of embroidered panels illustrating the spread of Scottish people all over the globe.

The Beam Me Up Scottie category encourages designers to looks to the future when creating their piece of wearable art.

Art is Tartan is an amazing event that brings contestants and audience from far and wide.  The 2017 show promises to be better than ever, with a substantial amount of prize money up for grabs.  As well as category prizes, contestants also vie for special awards such as McNeedle and Thread – the award for the best piece of wearable art using the skills of a seamstress or tailor.  There are also awards for joining together materials that are not fabric, for tartan innovation, and an award for the most outstanding college entry.  Competition is intense.

Show tickets for Art n Tartan go on sale later this month.  The organisers can hardly wait to see what wonderful wearable art is being created this year.

All will be revealed over the weekend of July 21-22 at the Celtic Barn in Waipu.

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