When fashion ploughs into farming

01:14, Jun 03 2014
An Ag Art winning entry from last year's National Fieldays, Barking Mad by Joanne Bowe.
TREE BARK: An Ag Art winning entry from last year's National Fieldays, Barking Mad by Joanne Bowe.

Designers and artists across New Zealand and Australia have spent the past year unleashing the creative beast within to come up with a stunning array of garments for this year's New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays Ag Art Wear Awards.

Fieldays Ag Art Wear is a prestigious nationwide competition which challenges designers and artists to create wearable art garments made from materials sourced from the farm, rural industries or the natural environment.

The Ag Art wear competition has three categories Avant Garde, Designer Traditional and the newly created Classroom Couture category for secondary school students.

Butchered by Joanne Rowe, a winner in the 2013 National Fieldays Ag Art competition.
DEHYDRATED MEAT: Butchered by Joanne Rowe, a winner in the 2013 National Fieldays Ag Art competition.

Designers can let their imagination run wild as previous entries have included raw meat, horse shoes, ear tags, No 8 Wire, feathers and animal carcasses.

Celebrating 20 years of creativity, a selection of garments from each category will be displayed during the Fieldays followed by the finale of this year's Fieldays Ag Art Wear Designer in the Field Gala Dinner and Awards Show. The awards show is a full theatrical event featuring all the marvellous creations and is the pinnacle of the competition.

It is considered to be one of Hamilton's hottest social events and with award winning satirist and comedian Te Radar as MC, the finale promises to be an entertaining extravaganza.


Fashion designer, successful entrepreneur, and philanthropist Annah Stretton has taken on the role of ambassador Ag Art Wear Awards and as such will be advocating the importance of the awards.

"Awards such as the Ag Art Wear enable the channelling of creativity within the agricultural sector, bringing another demographic into the already hugely successful Fieldays.

"They also offer creative New Zealanders the opportunity to mix design and art with an agricultural flavour," Stretton says.

As a judge at numerous fashion events including World of Wearable Art (WOW), Stretton has a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail and says she will be looking for a great idea which has been executed well.

"Wearable art is not just another opportunity to create a frock; it's thinking outside the square as to the way in which art and the body become one and creating a piece that simply talks to an idea, is fresh, innovative and one that I have not seen hundreds of times before. Original work and ideas are key."

Stretton herself has competed in numerous wearable art shows and says it is important to think outside the square and allow creative energies to be unleased. She enjoys working with all types of fabrics and is keen to include taxidermy in her creations.

"We have created several garments for WOW that have been later used in fashion shows to add to the drama. The boar's head (Beauty and the Beast) was possibly the most infamous of these but there have been many others such as the Greatest Frock Show on Earth, Bow Tie and The Reluctant Bride which featured taxidermy magpies. These are all outfits that have their heart in fashion and often get used and re used throughout the year," she says.

Local Te Awamutu artist Joanne Bowe knows all about creating original exciting Ag Art Wear as she scooped three Ag Art Wear awards for the two creations she entered.

Bowe took out the Designer Traditional category for her garment Barking Mad made from tree bark and The Avant Garde award for Butchered featuring dehydrated meat. She also won the newly introduced Supreme Award.

Coming from a rural background, Bowe has been entering wearable art competitions for several years and says she is addicted.

"I really enjoy the creative process of wearable art. Once I know what materials I want to use, the idea normally just flows and coming from a farm, I know what materials are available which helps."

Bowe has once again entered the Fieldays Ag Art Wear competition and says her design has been inspired by Aztec goddesses and will incorporate maize.

With entrants from New Zealand and Australia, a $11,000 prize pool, and a judging panel of elite designers including Stretton and local textile designer Marion Manson, organisers say there are going to be some incredibly innovative outfits on show at the awards show.

The finale will be held on Friday, June 13, at Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton. VIP tables can be booked at $1240 for a table of eight. This includes a sumptuous three-course meal, fine wines with dinner, the Ag Art Wear extravaganza show and a goody bag.

General admission tickets cost $39 and include the runway show and tiered seating arrangement. Tickets are available through Ticketek.