REVIEW: Wearable Art Mandurah 2022 Showcase

The Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase is the jewel in the crown of Mandurah’s annual arts calendar, and the crowning event of this annual art competition that welcomes imaginative, meaningful, and beautiful wearable art submissions from local, national, and international artists. This year’s showcase featured nearly 40 outstanding works across six categories, and included dozens of Metro Agency models, a group of dancers, artful video, vibrant lighting, and eclectic music to bring these incredible pieces to life in a captivating, genre-blending performance.

Define Femininity by Madelyn Sumner, Junk Mermaid by Miki Sugioka, Shipwrecked by Gigi Raphael, Image by Stephen Heath Photography
Reflected in Vincent’s Eyes by Jordan Pescud, Image by Stephen Heath Photography

The works were presented in thematic groupings, rather than by category, so pieces that were inspired by or evoked the ocean, for instance, were presented together regardless of which category they were judged under. Some pieces were accompanied by videos of the artists talking about and working on their pieces, such as Youth 13 – 18 Category entrant Jordan Pescud’s Reflected in Vincent’s Eyes. The video of Pescud talking and working on her piece offered the audience a deeper understanding of the complex, time-consuming planning process that was required to replicate Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night with yarn to create an enormous hoop skirt and separate bodice.

It was these more intimate glimpses into the artists’ stories that gave the showcase an emotional component, creating even more impact beyond the stunning visual impacts of the pieces themselves. This was especially true for Tanja Schumann’s Partizanka, which paid homage to her Ukrainian mother and her family’s heritage; the video allowed for a moment to reflect on the war in the Ukraine and the strength and resilience of its people, and the audience was moved by the tribute.

Angry Underwear Shark Bikini by Tania Ferrier, Image by Stephen Heath Photography

The showcase requires quite complex orchestration of each element of the production by Creative Director Helen Duncan, so that it becomes more about storytelling than parading, catwalk-style. The music and lights (designed by Rowan van Blomestein) are designed to elevate and dramatise each group of works, though the show would benefit from a sonic through-line to fill the silent gaps between sections. The dancers bring movement and energy to the stage, and for Tania Ferrier’s Angry Underwear Shark Bikini, they each wore a set of Angry Underwear for a choreographed number against a video backdrop of film footage about the outrageous garments, ostensibly from when they first made a global splash ca. 1988. This pop punk moment was a playful display of feminist art, where politics intersects with personal power and body autonomy.

No less political were the pieces that spoke to the environmental distresses our planet’s ecosystems are under due to the man-made climate crisis. Each category contained at least one piece that expressed the artist’s concern for how humans are polluting or destroying marine life, with their works representing things like coral bleaching, plastics in the ocean, or discarded nets from commercial fishing. This is obviously a pressing issue at the forefront of so many of the artists’ minds, and their gorgeous works are both a mirror and a call to action.

2022 award winners, Image by Stephen Heath Photography

At the conclusion of the showcase, the awards and winning pieces in each category were announced, and the artists were summoned to the stage to stand alongside their creations. The 2022 winners are:

Artist of the Year: Natalie Hamblin for Bycatch
International Award: Margarete Palz for Multiple Stimuli of Synergy
Creative Re-Use: Lisa von Muller for Carbon-sink Salicia
First Time Entrant: Steffi Delaney for The Queen of the Fairies
Taftainc. Award: Anna Dyer for Suburban Sanctuary

Category Winners
Alana Grant & Ruby Vale for Wing Threads, to the Moon
Elemental: Oana Maria Rosca for Golden Stripes Armor
Avant-Garde: Tanja Schumann for Partizanka
Tertiary: Claudia Reiss for Frankland River Sandy-Clay Loam
Youth 12 & Under: Aryan Narula for Bushfire
Youth 13-18: Jordan Pescud for Reflected in Vincent’s Eyes, with honourable mention to Madison Dorotich for Dress of Stories

The paper category exhibition In the Fold will be on display at MANPAC at the Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery until 18 November 2022, and hopefully we will soon hear confirmation of the Wearable Art Mandurah Exhibition dates for early 2023, where 15-20 pieces from this year’s competition will be displayed.

For a look at the 2022 award winners and each of the works presented in the showcase and In the Fold 2022 head to the Wearable Art Mandurah home page and gallery page, respectively.