Weta headhunts WOW artist

TASHA BLACK
Last updated 10:59 29/08/2011
Hermecea
Attention to detail: Jan Kerr's Brancott Estate World of WearableArt entry Hermecea, made mostly from recycled materials, took two years to create. It won the Weta Award and American Express Open Section. Photo: FAIRFAX
Jan
Euphoric: Jan Kerr starts a new job at Weta Workshop today.

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Years of hard work have paid off for Raumati South artist Jan Kerr, who has been head-hunted by Sir Richard Taylor to work at Weta Workshop - then to ice the cake scooped two top World of WearableArt awards on Friday night.

Kerr's entry, Hermecea, a colourful sea-creature, won the Weta Award, chosen by Sir Richard, co-founder and co-director of Weta Workshop, for a garment that best crosses the boundaries of film and WearableArt. Sir Richard liked the costume so much he wants Kerr on his payroll.

Kerr received a phone call from a Weta staff member two weeks ago asking if she could call Sir Richard.

"I sat on the phone number for the night and then half the next day and then I plucked up the courage to ring him."

Kerr, a gallery manager for Raumati's Lush Design Gallery, said Sir Richard complimented her on her WearableArt entry and offered her a job, which starts today.

"It was really out of the blue. I certainly wasn't expecting that to happen. It's like I've had this door open and I have to walk through it. It's a huge opportunity for me, so I'm going to go for it."

Kerr said she has been in a euphoric state for two weeks.

"It just doesn't seem real, I have to keep pinching myself in case it's a dream.

"It's like the pinnacle of my career. I've worked really hard for years and now it's been acknowledged.

"[Sir Richard] is right up there in the film industry. He's right at the top of the ladder. To be acknowledged by someone like him who knows his stuff is a real compliment."

Kerr was invited to visit Weta Workshop, which "sort of feels like Hogwarts", to see her new office.

"It's just an amazing place. There's all these incredibly gifted artists working there, quite a lot of whom I know already. It's just like a big family, it's wonderful."

Kerr said Sir Richard liked her costume because of its attention to detail, a skill she will transfer to the soft fabric wardrobe department working on orcs for The Hobbit.

She said some of the materials and techniques used at Weta come from overseas and while she is excited about what she will learn she is also apprehensive.

"My art will probably change because of it."

Sir Richard was flexible about her hours and she has settled on four days a week so she has time to work on her own art.

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"A lot of people say 'oh well, you'll have to move into town'. No I'm quite happy living on the Coast, I don't want to move into town."

Kerr, who has been making WearbleArt costumes for 10 years, also won the Open Section, which has no thematic boundaries and aims to encourage a high degree of originality and innovation.

Kapiti's other WoW costume maker, Raumati South's Rita Schrieken, was a finalist in the Under the Microscope section with a costume based on genes. The Kapiti Observer will catch up with Kerr and Schrieken this week and review the show.

- Kapiti Observer

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