Students’ conservation dresses on display

For the second year in a row, the visitor centre has worked with senior students from Queen Margaret College in Wellington as they complete their final year project in Materials Technology working with an external client to design and create an exhibition-style, original wearable artwork for public display. The project is inspired by the World of WearableArt (WOW) show.

The two 18-year-old Year 13 students, Tulsi Patel and Sascha Thomson, along with their teacher Barbara Knight, worked closely with DOC Community Ranger Don Herron from the visitor centre to develop a design brief aligned with DOC’s work.

Both designs had to be made from recycled materials, be durable for display, not make use of any native materials, and reflect conservation values.

Tulsi Patel’s design is based on one of New Zealand’s most iconic birds, the takahē. Appropriately named ‘Finding Takahē’, Tulsi used old maps sourced from the visitor centre to create a striking dress.

“My wearable art project commemorates the conservation endeavours of saving this native species. Repurposed topographic maps provided by DOC are used in my project to represent rediscovery and the ongoing efforts of finding and tracking takahē in the wild,” Tulsi Patel says.

Sascha Thomson’s dress also has a native bird theme and is called ‘Feathers’. She repurposed discarded domestic sewing pattern paper by painting, varnishing and folding it into different sized feathers to create a densely layered surface.

“I was inspired by DOC’s efforts to protect and preserve our native bird species, ensuring they will be here for the future. The shape of a feather is used in my design as a visual symbol for all bird species,” Sascha says.

Their teacher, Barbara Knight, says, “It’s really wonderful for our senior students to work in collaboration on real and authentic design projects outside the classroom. They get to see their work in a public forum, and this inevitably encourages them to work towards exceeding the brief specifications.

“DOC is an exciting organisation to design for. Its values and ethics are those our students also believe in whole-heartedly and this inspires their work. Thank you to DOC for the opportunity to partner again this year.”

DOC’s Don Herron says he is blown away by the final results.

“The dresses have so much detail and really portray the conservation efforts around takahē and New Zealand’s other native birds. Both Tulsi and Sascha have done an amazing job, despite a difficult year, and should be proud of their results,” he says.

/Public Release. View in full here.