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EcoChic: Knox Wearable Arts

Inspired by Indigenous plant species’, Running Postman, Lomandra, Happy Wanderer and Wattle, over one hundred and thirty community members created an innovative and immense wearable arts performance.

Community and Public Arts officer, Jo Herbig, Costume and Set Designer Adrienne Chisholm, Fashion Designer Bronwyn Napiorkowski, Choreographer, Professional Dancer Gretel Taylor, and Sound Artist Patrick Dunn worked with Rowville Primary School and Rowville Secondary College to bring this project to realisation on Sunday 20 October 2013 at Stringybark Festival.

Highlighting and promoting the biodiversity significance in Knox, primary and secondary school children were educated about their environment and more specifically about the plants around them. This knowledge was then integrated through visual and performing arts.

Learning involves engaging all the senses and dance integrates knowledge through movement. Year seven and year eight dance students from Rowville Secondary College understood this process through contemporary dance. These students had a unique opportunity to be mentored by a professional working in the industry and assisted in the teaching and staging of the project whilst also acting as group leaders for the performance. Grade five children learnt choreography from the mentorees based on the qualities and movements of each of these plants.

Fashion is often an interest teenage girl’s pursue at one point or another. Approximately thirty year ten and eleven textile students worked with two experienced textile artists and costume designers to create grand haute couture gowns and group leader costumes from locally sourced and recycled materials. Their increasing awareness about materials, waste and sustainability translated into thoughts about what they wear and how they live their lives.

Over 6 weeks, 75 grade five children created magnificent colourful costumes based on the Lomandra, Happy Wanderer and Wattle plants. Through this visual art form all students thought deeply about the appearance and qualities of these plants.

The entire performance took place in an immersive forest environment. Under a green lit tent, trees spread into the canopy, plants and mulch and grass covered the ground. Sound Artist, Patrick Dunn created works to reflect the qualities of the Wattle, Lomandra and Happy Wanderer, performed to by local primary school children and secondary school textile and dance students in two performances on Sunday 20 October 2013.

The tent served as a Chill Out Zone all day Saturday and Sunday morning at Stringybark Festival. Festival participants enjoyed lunch, watched a performance, or just lay in one of the many bean bags spread around the site. There were several opportunities to learn more about the environment by film or by listening to stories under the storytelling tree.

Five members from the Knox Photographic Society photographed different aspects of the project. Jo Herbig, Council’s Community Arts Officer curated this exhibition of wearable arts photos and costumes on display at Knox Community Arts Centre (corner Mountain Hwy and Scoresby Road, Bayswater) from 18 November until Wednesday 18 December 2013. In addition, the entire project was documented on film, aired on Channel 31 Monday 25 November 2013.

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