Fairfax Media NZ / Nelson Mail

One of WOW’s most successful designers has started a new creative art business to build on the aesthetic he developed during the competition.

Motueka-based Peter Wakeman and his wife Teresa are thrilled about their new venture, Wakeman Creation [http://wakemancreation.com/]. The collection of sculpture, fashion accessories and furniture will be made from a variety of materials, but Wakeman says his bread and butter will be metal, wood, and the fibreglass that has made him famous. “I have a stack of ideas I can’t wait to start rolling through,” he says.

The Captain’s Chair

The first is the Captain’s Chair, a black and white fibreglass chair set built on the metal bones of two classic 1960s frames. Wakeman has built them from marine-grade plywood and added two skins of fibreglass, then sanded them and finished them with black and white epoxy automotive paint with a clear coat on top. 

“I did my usual and thought about it and reached into my imagination,” he says of the design. “I really like the look of the frames – nice and solid for me to weave my magic on.”

Next up, he’ll be working on a set of fashion accessories – several handbag and clutch sets, which he expects will be due out in May.

Chica Under Glass on stage in the 2013 WOW Awards Show

Wakeman is a well-known WOW personality and has become one of the show’s most successful designers in a very short period of time. Using skills developed during a lifetime of working with his hands, including boatbuilding, woodworking, and construction, Wakeman designed and built three fibreglass “frocks” to enter WOW three years in a row – Veniece in Glass Bind, Chica Under Glass, and Diva’s Dreamscape.

Veniece was a finalist in the Avant Garde section in 2014, Chica won the Avant Garde section and came runner up to the Supreme Award in 2013, and Diva won the Creative Excellence section and the Supreme Award in 2015, capping off his stellar WOW career. His garments have featured on international marketing materials, calendars, and books, as well as travelling the world in museum exhibitions. He is also one of a handful of designers selected to be profiled in 2015’s book World of WearableArt: 30 Designers Tell Their Stories.

He describes his signature look as “sleek, bold and sexy”, focusing on clean lines and a strong silhouette. His new sculpture line will be the same. “They’re eye candy, both powerful and beautiful, considering the strong materials used,” he says. They’ll all be finished with what he says is his “painfully meticulous” attention to detail, an element of his work that has regularly impressed WOW judges over the past three years.

Diva’s Dreamscape on stage in the 2015 WOW Awards Show

But none of the new pieces will be alike; Wakeman says he gets bored “really fast” and everything he makes will be different. “They’re not things you’ll find at The Warehouse or Harvey Norman,” he says. “I hope people can see a piece of my work and it still has the Wakeman Creation look and style about it.

“Expect anything,” he says. “I have a bunch of ideas I’ve been working on over a period of time and they’ll all be one-off handcrafted pieces; I have no interest in doing repetitive work or quantities of the same creations. It keeps me motivated, enthusiastic and passionate about what I do.”

Wakeman Creation will run out of the couple’s salmon-pink Art Deco home in Motueka. All the works will be “totally different” – he wants to keep them all a surprise. One hint he does drop is a set of sleek luggage, including cosmetic case and handbag.

The Captain’s Chair

Wakeman credits WOW with giving his artistic creative career a jumpstart. It was seeing an exhibition garment made of saw blades and fur at Nelson Airport in 2012 that first caught his attention. With three daughters grown up, he was immediately captured by the idea of dreaming up artistic pieces made only to please himself, with no restrictions or compromise on ideas. He loved the prospect of delving into his imagination, and the following year made his first garment, which took more than 300 hours over seven months. He hasn’t looked back since.

“Without WOW I would probably still be looking around for an opportunity to get into something without having to wind back life and spending seven years studying art at school,” he says. “WOW presents a wonderful opportunity and it’s up to the individual to reach out and grab it.”

He hasn’t ruled out entering again in the future, but for now is keen to focus on his new endeavour.

“WOW is a chance for you to grow as a person, and I’m an avid supporter,” he says. “If you have a degree of success you can either sit back and admire your work and keep patting yourself on the back – or get focused and get into something new.”