Artist storms to supreme award

WINNING CRAZINESS: Fair Storm in a Teacup, is an example of what happens when Marcia Scott lets her artistic ability go a little crazy.
WINNING CRAZINESS: Fair Storm in a Teacup, is an example of what happens when Marcia Scott lets her artistic ability go a little crazy.

Timaru artist Marcia Scott's work usually hangs on walls, or sits artistically in a room.

But a couple of months ago she allowed her artistic side to "go crazy," with the outcome being the winner of the supreme hat award at Saturday's New Zealand Hat and Hair Art Awards. Herald reporter Rhonda Markby spoke to her about her winning bout of craziness.

Marcia Scott reckons she must just about have shares in the PVA glue company, she has used so much of the stuff. And it's all in the name of art.

Four large bottles of PVA, ping-pong balls, toy horses and a fairy from the $2 shop, fabrics and much artistic ability were combined to create Marcia's entry in this year's New Zealand Hat and Hair Art Awards, Fair Storm in a Teacup. And it was enough not only to win her the Carnival Magic category, but also the supreme hat award.

Ask the professional artist – who usually paints in acrylics or makes arty stools and blocks – how she came up with her winning entry, and there is no instant answer.

The theme for this year's show, Magical, Mystical, Mythology, did not initially appeal to her, but having been a finalist in a section in the last show – the first she had entered – she was keen to enter again.

A trip to the children's section of the library and a trawl through books on the circus, started the ideas process. Then there was the thought of including the teacup rides that feature at some fairgrounds.

"I conjured it up in my head," she said, adding the notes in her sketchbook were more about not forgetting ideas rather than being truly serious planning.

A portion of the dining room was sectioned off. Construction began.

It took about six weeks to produce the work of art. Marcia admits it was time-consuming.

Some days it lay untouched, but on others, hours were poured into the project.

In spite of having a serious amount of fabric and art materials at home, Marcia admits trips to Timaru stores became a regular occurrence as the creative process evolved.

"I was best friends with the Timaru Sewing Centre," she quipped of her endless trips to buy that just-right piece of fabric or trim.

And the $2 Shop proved to be a treasure chest when it came to sourcing the plastic horses and fairy which also found their way into her design.

But even for an artist of Marcia's ability, not every design goes smoothly. Initially, the circus tent which covered the cup and saucer was to have had fold-down sides. It just didn't work. With cut-out slots around the tent the whole thing was too floppy. Back to the drawing board.

"You just nut it out. Don't fret about it, it will happen."

While the rules on what she could make were few, one issue she had to be constantly aware of was the weight of the hat, as the model would have to wear it for some time.

For her, the glue itself was the most weighty item, with four large bottles of PVA being combined with cardboard, fabric, and all the smaller elements which made up the cupful of fairground memorabilia.

As much as she loves fabric, and her hat featured so much of it, Marcia makes it clear she is no sewer.

"I'm a really bad sewer. There is not a stitch in the hat, it's all glue. I reckon I should have shares in the PVA company," she quips.

Ultimately, entering Hat and Hair gave her a chance to be "arty" in a very different way.

"I could just let go, go crazy. It's something I don't get a chance to do (with her more commercial work).

"There were no rules. With painting I have to think what would I like to have on my wall," she said of the desire to have her art sell. And her art has been selling for a long time.

Marcia acknowledges she comes from an artistic family, happy to bestow the "arty" label on her mother, grandmother, brother and sister. In fact, attending art exhibitions was part of her life from an early age. And not just as a spectator.

Marcia first exhibited her paintings when she was 16 or 17. It was the Ashburton Art Society's annual exhibition and she entered a trio of still life featuring both paint and fabric.

Her mother put a $150 price tag on them. The teenager thought that was far too much – and then they sold.

Painting is not just a hobby, it is also her career. Her art has always provided her with an income, even if it has been one supplemented with part-time jobs. Her medium of choice is usually acrylic, although she has moved from paper to canvas in recent years.

And, based on Fair Storm, is it correct to assume she has a real thing for colour and pattern?

"Mum always gives me grief (about her clothes)," she laughs, indicating the clothing she is wearing which is all in shades of black and grey.

Yes, she does love colour, and while it might not show in her clothing, it does in the commercial lines she has come up with, including a square, slotted-together stool which can double as a small table. The laser-cut timber panels become canvases for her designs. She also makes a range of "dust collector" decorative blocks.

You get the feeling there are always plenty of artistic projects whizzing around in Marcia's head. Next on the agenda is an exhibition in Ashburton in 10 days' time. She will share gallery space with her sister, Andrea Tudehope, who specialises in her own range of eclectic furniture.

While Marcia's paintings and stools might be the mainstay of her artistic work for the months to come, there is no doubting she is keen to go crazy again, creating an entry for the next Hat and Hair awards.

The Timaru Herald