Artist’s dy­ing wish granted

Sunday Star-Times - - News - Carly Gooch

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

Preb­ble’s cos­tume.

‘‘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.

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