It’s Saunders’ 13th WOW placing, seventh award win, and her second time receiving the pinnacle WOW Supreme Award.
Saunders is among 15 section and special award winners. There are also 12 second and third place getters (detail below), with a total awards prize pool worth NZD$185,000.
WOW Head of Competition Sarah Nathan says,
“The stories behind many of this year’s garments reflect a range of important social issues, making the WOW Show not only a brilliant spectacle but a heartfelt showcase of the human experience through some of the most outstanding pieces of wearable art in the world. As ever, the judges had an incredibly difficult job. This year, as we watch and celebrate the evolution of new technologies, materials and techniques, there is something very grounding in celebrating a Supreme winner that is 100% handcrafted.”
Earthling is the third and final piece in a wearable art trilogy by Saunders and takes its inspiration from the rising popularity of adult colouring book. Promoting mindfulness in a “world under increasing stress”, Earthling celebrates earth’s natural wonders in a fun, vibrant, and beautifully crafted garment made from EVA foam, acrylic paint, and wire.
The 2023 judging panel comprised WOW Founder and Ambassador Dame Suzie Moncrieff; Aotearoa New Zealand sculptor and Arts Foundation Laureate Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui); partner, designer and director of WORLD Benny Castles; and Wētā Workshop Emerging Designer Award Judge – Co-founder, CEO and Creative Director of Wētā Workshop, Sir Richard Taylor.
Of the Supreme WOW Award winner, the judges said, “Earthling demonstrated an unmatched sense of the unity of wearable art and impeccable craft person ship. It is absolutely beautiful, joyful, playful and positive, and wholly global yet looks and feels like Aotearoa.”
Saunders receives NZD$6000 for winning the Open category and NZD$30,000 for the Supreme WOW Award.
Other winners include the oldest finalists in the 2023 line-up, Joanne Van Wyk and Lena Van Der Wat (81 and 87) from South Africa, who, with their daughter/daughter-in-law Erna Van Der Wat from Auckland, crocheted an extraordinary alien – Blooming Proof! – to win the Mars & Beyond section. Taking out the popular Bizarre Bra section, a husband and wife team from Tuakau, Kristy and David Kirkpatrick, created a ‘digger bra’, titled Groundbreaking. The winner of the Aotearoa section is a huge wooden wētā, Child·Hood by welder Craig McMillan, who took his inspiration from growing up on the WestCoast.
The other section winners were first-time entrant Chiaki Shimizu, from Japan, whose incredibly crafted SAMURAI Girl won the Avant-garde section and the Wētā Workshop Emerging Designer award, and Dawn Mostow and Snow Winters from the US, who took out the Gold section and the International Award (Americas) with Digital Ascension of Kitsune, an inflated latex masterpiece. Mostow has won the Overall International Award twice before.
WOW is New Zealand’s most spectacular theatrical stage production and world’s leading wearable art competition. For the next two and a half eeks, the TSB Arena stage will come alive with this year’s 110 finalist entries by over 120 designers representing 23 countries and regions around the world. The 2023 WOW Show includes over 100 dancers, performers and aerialists, as well as spell-binding headline performances by Deva Mahal, Zoe Moon, Taiaroa Royal, Jaxson Cook, and AROHA.
The 33rdWOW Show runs until 8 October at Wellington’s TSB Arena. Tickets are still on sale at www.worldofwearableart.com.