Class act

Last updated 12:00 17/08/2012
WINNER: Sounds like old school by Millie Law.

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Arts on Friday

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Take one small school, a rock-star teacher and several talented students and a recipe for success is born.

Emma Horsley finds out what drove a group of students to take the Manfeild stage by storm at the recent wearable art awards.

Seven students left Taihape Area School full of anticipation and promise and they returned clutching a swag of awards, including the Supreme and commendations for their work in the Evento Wearable Art Awards run by Feilding High School.

Evento organiser Amanda Street said it was brilliant that the students from Taihape had such huge success at the awards and a lot of it was to do with the support of their art teacher Andrew Yates.

"He's quite amazing and gives so much energy to those kids," she said.

"He was driving them back and forth from here to Taihape for rehearsals and gave up a week in the school holidays to help them prepare for the show. It's really something to have someone that dedicated."

Yates has been at the 400-student school for three years after teaching art at Queen Elizabeth College.

"I love working at smaller schools as you can really get to know the students and have far more opportunity to work with them on a one-to-one basis."

He is humble about his input into the students, saying all he does is strike the spark and let them light it. He and another teacher, Warwick Greaves, started a visual arts and technology academy at the school and last year entrants to the Evento awards were able to be part of it as a workshop for ideas.

"We used it again this year for the students and they lapped it up," said Greaves. "It gave them more time to get to a higher level."

Some took part in the academy and others just used the class time and the holidays to do the work.

"It was about promoting the design process and encouraging research," said Yates.

"We kept telling them not to have fixed ideas and not to limit themselves."

The students spent most of term two - once they knew what the categories were - working on ideas and then spent a short period putting the garments together.

Thirteen-year-old Millie Law showed talent beyond her years with her Sounds Like Old School garment of gramophone-shaped cones coated in foam, papier mache and shellac.

Her mother Claire Law said Yates' input was invaluable.

Students Emma McCaughan, Cheyenne Williams, Nicola-Mary Geraghty, Millie, Mikayla Mattock, Shonika Beck-Thornton and Ayla Hutchinson all speak highly of their teacher.

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"He is great fun and helps us with ideas," said Emma.

Both Emma and Nicola competed last year and said having that experience made this year's competition less stressful.

"I guess we knew what to expect."

The eldest of the girls, Cheyenne, said that once she found out what the categories were and saw the Retro Tech division she got her idea immediately.

"I straight away thought of old computer screen and games like Pac-Man, and I built it in about four days."

Cheyenne's design won the recycling section of the Retro Tech division.

This was the 16th year of the awards and each year it has grown.

The Evento competition is the only one in the country that is a vehicle for secondary-school wearable art and second only to the matriarch of wearable art shows, Brancott World of WearableArt, to be staged in September.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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