Canned Art to Wear extravaganza back next year ‘bigger and better’

The Covid-19 pandemic may have forced this year’s Raglan Art to Wear to be postponed by 12 months but organisers say the upside is the rescheduled wearable arts show promises to be bigger and better than ever.

That’s because, they say, intending entrants in the hugely popular show now have a lot more time than usual to dream up their elaborate – and sometimes downright wacky – creations.

“Everything will stay the same,” Jean Carbon told the Chronicle of the biennial event she started more than 20 years ago. Apart from being a year later the show would have the same end-of-May dates, the same posters around town, the same entry forms and the same categories.

There might just be an extra category, she added as an afterthought, given the Covid-19 crisis and the call for masks. “I’ll need input from the (organising) team for that.”

Her “team” is lacking a vital member at the moment as new Art to Wear producer Irene Goed – who’s taken over from longtime stalwart Patti Mitchley – is stranded by the Covid-19 lockdown in Austria, where she went to help her mother shift house.

Irene – who by now should have been back home in the backblocks of Waitetuna where her family-owned touring troupe, Circus Aotearoa, is based – told the Chronicle she’d been looking forward to her new role with Art to Wear.

“It’s an exciting challenge,” she emailed from Austria this week. “We just have to take the situation as it is now and use the extra time to organise and to be creative.”

Fellow team-mate and past Art to Wear winner Liz Hosking agreed. She and all three of her children have been involved in wearable art shows here and elsewhere over two decades now, and she said she was excited to have more time to support her youngest – nine-year-old Nia – with a first-time local entry in the ‘Lost at Sea’ children’s section.

“This is an awesome opportunity to develop a wide range of skills from design through to construction and into the performance on stage,” she said.

Regular entrant and taxidermist Annick Faubert – no stranger to rushing to complete creations, whether they be for Art to Wear or Raglan Arts Weekend which was also put off this year – was philosophical this week about the fashion show’s postponement.

“We will have more time to prepare, and must simply trust that the show will be just as good later on,” she said.

Jean Carbon said it was the coronavirus lockdown which in the end forced her team to postpone the event for a year. “We couldn’t just delay and delay,”  she said.

She said there’d been doubt to whether the town hall – as a public facility – would be available again by the end of May for the extravaganza. Also, the Creative Communities funding scheme the show relied upon had been halted during the Covid-19 lockdown, she explained.

Against that Jean said she’d had assurances from locals involved in everything from sponsorship to photography to judging that their support for the show would remain in place, which was  “heartwarming”.

She’s keen to turn the negative into a positive, with so much more time now for participants to think about and plan for their entries. “Make the lockdown work for you, and Raglan Art to Wear 2021 can be bigger and better,” was her message.

Edith Symes