'It's about wearing your whakapapa, stories'

Last updated 12:00 15/07/2014
Ron Te Kawa
Bit bright: Ron Te Kawa in his new open studio full of his colourful, one-off creations.

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Fabric artist Ron Te Kawa brings a little bit of bright wherever he goes and his new open studio is a colourful new addition to the Square Edge Community Arts Centre in Palmerston North.

Te Kawa is an artist, designer and quilter who hand-makes clothing and elaborate quilts with his signature quirky style. He has worked extensively in the New Zealand and overseas fashion industry and said he had been looking for a studio space in Palmerston North for a while.

"This just fits, I feel at home here and I love this building. I feel like the building was calling me in, it wanted me here too."

Sue Owen from Square Edge said she was amazed at the number of people who came in to see his recent exhibition at the community gallery for Matariki.

"It was by chance that we got Ron; someone pulled out of an exhibition and Ron was recommended. People love him and he has a huge following, he has a wonderful personality, really out there. He is a great addition."

Te Kawa uses mostly recycled fabric, blankets and scarfs. He is given wool from his next door neighbour in Woodville who hand-spins the wool from her sheep. Te Kawa said he also loved to use vintage suits. Everything that he makes is a one-off.

"My attention span is too short to make the same things," Te Kawa said. "It's all about wearing your own whakapapa and your own stories. Any shoplifter can have a label, but it takes a lot more to have your own style."

Te Kawa will be using his open studio as a base three days a week to sell and work from, and will hold screen printing workshops. He said the workshops were a chance for people to rework their wardrobes with some individuality.

"People want choice, I'm about creativity and good will is a big part of it."

Te Kawa said he could alter things on the spot and would take on commissions. He is currently sewing rainbow cloaks for the Wellington City Council kapa haka group for the welcoming of the designers involved in the Eco Fashion Awards in Lower Hutt.

Te Kawa's open studio is open Thursday to Saturday and is on the ground floor of the Square Edge Community Arts Centre.

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- Manawatu Standard

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