Kayla Christensen’s journey in design started young; she says she always knew she wanted to be an artist. She and her best friend Renee Louie saw their first World of WearableArt Awards Show (the 20th anniversary show) as teens after winning tickets in their high school wearable art competition, and the pair soon entered a garment together. For the next 10 years, they developed their skills, both collaboratively and independently.
Christensen frequently works with canvas and paint, and says entries don’t have to cost a lot to be effective. After placing third in the 2017 Aotearoa Section with her creation Kuini, a tribute to our extinct and endangered birds, she decided on total commitment for her 2018 entry. She says although it can be intimidating for amateur designers to enter WOW, she believes that if you can dream your creation, it’s only a matter of commitment and planning to turn it into reality.
It is totally achievable if you have the right mindset, determination, time management and of course an immense amount of passion ready to be fuelled into a creation. What you are rewarded with is amazing; you get to see your garment on stage interacting in a world only imagined in your wildest dreams.
To create Ancient Dreamscape, Christensen took inspiration from her ancestors. “As night dawns, the soul leaves the body and goes into a distinct dream realm. My ancestors live there, they are waiting to be remembered,” she says. “The ancestors that communicate while I sleep tell a story of my whakapapa and where I have come from.” She describes it as a “surreal feeling of waking up after being in another world and meeting my grandmothers with a sense of deja vu.”
“I have pushed myself to the limits to create something that I have pulled from my dreams and into reality, sharing a little piece of my imagination for all to see.”
Five facts you may not have known when you saw Ancient Dreamscape on stage:
- The garment is 100% hand drawn and hand painted (with house paint acrylic!)
- Most of it is hand stitched together.
- The paintings are inspired by actual dreams that Kayla has recorded.
- The large scale portraits were painted in Kayla’s small flat in Wellington.
- Kayla took a risk and reduced her full-time job to part-time for a month to allow for more time to work on Ancient Dreamscape. Kayla used the prize money received from her 2017 entry Kuini (Aotearoa Section Third) to help support with living costs and materials for this year’s entry.