Erica Gray in the wonderland of WOW

Regular Blank readers will already be familiar with Erica Gray and her quirky soft sculptures and stitched paintings. What you might not know is that Erica mingles comfortably in the realm of wearable art too.

The World of WearableArt, or simply WOW, and its phenomenal growth is one of New Zealand’s cultural success stories. This international art and fashion event held every September inspires artists, fashion designers, costume-makers and other artisans to enter garments of wearable art to compete for the prestigious awards. The visual spectacle consists of themed categories that vary slightly from year to year and have included such themes as Avant Garde, Bizarre Bras, Architecture and South Pacific. You can probably imagine it; these garments are a serious dive deep into the artist’s imagination, creativity and sewing and pattern-making skills!

It was in 2010 that Erica fell into the rabbit hole and found herself smitten with the world of wearable art. “At that stage, I had been away from fashion for a few years pursuing a career in [sculptural] art … and now it felt perfect to combine my love of the two.” But it wasn’t until 2012 that she entered

her first garment into WOW. “That year the design brief was to utilise the element of sound. I was thrilled to be accepted as a finalist with my garment the Shaker Suit, which also went on to win that category.

Erica tells of her first year experience. “Dancing across the stage in a ballistic manner my garment bounced to every direction and the beads stitched inside the form rattled with every bounce. I was used to seeing my artwork sitting against the white walls of a gallery but seeing it now worn on a person in such a way, made the experience so joyful and alive.”

In 2014, for the third time, Gold Coast’s own Erica Gray flew to Wellington as a finalist in her chosen category: GEN-I Creative Excellence and the design brief was to include the element of air into a design – fly, float, flow, inflate.

“I picked up on flow and capture as key words for my design and my garment which I called Vapournaut. My concept was to design a body suit that could be worn in some strange imagined world with a dangerously polluted environment.This suit would capture the outside air filtering it through the suit and transforming it into clean breathable air.”

These pieces are not just garments; they are sculptures, political, social and environmental statements and results of imagination gone wild!

At the moment all of Erica’s winning garments are in Wellington with some to stay in the permanent WOW collection, but come next year, the highlights of the collection will be touring outside of New Zealand. In May 2015 all you art lovers and fashionistas will have your chance to see and experience this mix of sculpture and fashion in Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville. Until then you can always go to Erica’s website for a little taste of the WOW wonderland!



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