Artist’s dying wish granted
It was her ‘‘most personal piece’’ but it was a work Claire Prebble never got to complete.
Three years after her death from aggressive melanoma, World of Wearable Arts (WOW) designer Prebble’s last costume, lovingly finished by a friend, has been accepted into the permanent collection at Wellington’s Te Papa museum.
Mother Sarah Hornibrook said the costume – Warrioress of Light – was a project her daughter was doing for her own satisfaction and was ‘‘about moving in to the light’’.
The ensemble is made up of several delicately detailed parts including a headpiece, face mask, sleeves, and a bodice, all created from Swarovski crystals and sterling silver, with a skirt of silk organza.
At 18, Prebble was the youngest WOW Supreme Winner in 2004 before she began working in costume design at Weta Workshop, eventually becoming head of the costume department.
In a 2015 blog, Prebble wrote she’d first thought up the Warrioress costume when she was 19.
‘‘The piece has grown with me from being a girl into being a young woman. It represents the challenges and achievements I have had in my life and how they have shaped me to be who I am today. Love. Loss. Caring. Betrayal. Pain. Happiness. I have seen the dark and decided it was not for me and I would go towards the light, love, caring, elegant, enchanting.’’
After Prebble’s death there was only one person who could complete the work, close friend and Weta Workshop colleague Alex Denton, who studied drawings and learned how to weave with silver wire to get it finished.
Warrioress of Light will be on view at Te Papa in the New Year but in the meantime is accessible through Collections Online and special back-of house-tours.
Te Papa senior curator of New Zealand history and culture, Claire Regnault, said Te Papa was honoured to have been gifted
‘‘She is an inspirational practitioner who gently and determinedly forged her own pathway to international success.’’
Te Papa senior curator Claire Regnault works on Claire Prebble’s costume, Warrioress of Light. Right: Prebble wearing her 2006 WOW entry, Zebedee.