Area’s beauty integral to self, endeavour
Earnscleugh artist Debbie Paton was the only Otago designer whose entry was selected for this year’s World of WearableArt (Wow). As Wow completes its second week in Wellington, Pam Jones talks to Paton about creativity and chain mail.
Q You have just returned from seeing
your Maille Order Bride design paraded at the World of WearableArt (Wow). How was it? WOW! What a trip! Wellington is a town that embraces its culture and art wholeheartedly.
I just love Wellytown and being a part of the extraordinary Wow is armpinchingly unreal. I still can’t believe my creation made it to the stage. To see it on stage and among all the other incredible designers’ creations was something I doubt I will ever experience again. And to share it with my friends and my sister and niece was very special. We had fun!
What inspired your creation and how was it made?
Maille Order Bride is made up of thousands of copper and silver jumprings all individually joined together. I don’t know if I had any inspiration to make it; I think it just evolved, as most of my artwork does. It all started with a piece of chain mail that I made using tiny 5mm jump rings, making an incredible little square of metal that moved like liquid. That little square took me about three months to make so I looked to largersized jumprings, but not too big, as I didn’t want to lose the sexiness of the metal fabric. A large piece of chain mail moulds to your body and swings like a living thing.
The chain mail I started working on eventually became a dress and I added beads and more chains and — voila! — my creation was made. The name for it was inspired by mailorder brides, where women see a better life for themselves in another country and can only successfully do this by marrying a stranger — how scary would that be? So the chain mail symbolises this new life, the mail is her protection, the chains are what binds her to it and the beads are the hope that the marriage makes a better life for her than the one she has escaped from. Woman in chains.
You are also involved in other arts, and your limestone sculpture Te
Wairua is one of the artworks installed around Alexandra through the Alexandra Community Arts Council’s public art programme. What does it represent? My sculpture Te
Wairua was a piece I carved and gifted to the arts council and the Alexandra Community House when it was completed. It is an insideout twist in a circle that symbolises life and peace, and honours the lives of those who came before us and made our towns (Clyde and Alexandra) what they are today. I wanted to do something to represent the freedom and way of life we have in Central Otago and in New Zealand, that we may not have had if it weren’t for the sacrifices made by our ancestors and their bravery in the wars that hopefully won’t ever happen again. Q Are you already thinking about your next Wow entry? I’m not sure if I need to enter Wow again. It’s an amazing show, and it was incredible to be a part of it; very exciting! If you have an idea for creating something magical, don’t hold back! Go at it with all your might — let your imagination run riot! Maille Order
Bride took me over three years to complete. The journey was totally worth it. But I think I might just sit back and relax and wait for inspiration to grab me again.
Wow... Maille Order Bride, by Earnscleugh designer Debbie Paton, is modelled at Wow 2017.