The competiton was held by the Compendium Gallery in Devonport, New Zealand in 1992,
The Brief – To Create the Great New Zealand Cloak, My Piece – “Island” When I planned the cloak – I did want to include reference to Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, who created wonderful cloaks mostly of a rectangular shape with a woven tie at the shoulders or neck. Their cloaks were woven, usually of a flax fibre. The best and most valuable Maori cloaks included bird feathers, the most striking for me being those created with kiwi feathers. Some were all over feathers attached to the base woven flax cloak. The flax is dyed in a specific mud to get the very dark almost black colour in the work. The flax was woven in intricate geometric designs using the dyed black with the creamy natural fibre and their stories are woven into the designs in the cloaks.
My cloak was created in one piece from the bottom edge to the shoulders. It is an island from the sea to the sky with mountains, sea shore, surf, farm land etc, as best as I could represent a land from the sea. I considered adding a component relating to my own Viking heritage of the sea – but had decided that will be the basis of another cloak in the future.
The black stripe down the sides from the shoulders have linen tassels is to provide that link back to New Zealand Maori whose cloaks were the natural flax creamy colour with black tassels. A feathered cloak would not have tassels. My reference is in reverse – creamy linen tassels on black yarn strip. I called my piece “Island”, because New Zealand is made up a group of islands.
I feel that I created an art piece in the form of a cloak, an absolutely wearable cloak. It sits well and floats from the shoulders. It is light and warm and envelopes one in luxury. When you are wearing it and walk along the shape of it moves in light waves and ripples like the shallows on the sea shore. I am still delighted when I wear the cloak and am always delighted when it is borrowed as it has been many times. This cloak has attended an opera, music festivals, celebratory dinners, and graduations. A perfect piece.
This the link to my earlier story of The Great New Zealand Cloak” competition / exhibition – http://www.connielene.com/the-great-new-zealand-cloak-exhibition
When I created this cloak I decided that I was possibly an artist who knits.
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