World of Wearable Art Ferns finalist for Opera House foyer

Published on 29 January 2024

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High fashion will be on display at the Ōamaru Opera House this month, with local artist and craftsperson Tracey Vickers’ 2023 finalist entry ‘Maiden of the Ferns’ going on display in the foyer.

Mrs Vickers, who recently contributed to the design of the Awamoa Park mural, designed Maiden Of The Ferns and created it using recycled upholstery scraps, plastic packaging, EVA window seals, Worbla & sequins.

Frances McElhinney, Director of the Ōamaru Opera House says: “We’re honoured to have the privilege of displaying Maiden of the Ferns so that our community has an opportunity to see this magnificent creation of Tracey’s. Maiden of the Ferns will be on display in the main foyer area for approximately 6 weeks, and we looking forward to welcoming all to view her”

The story behind the display, which featured at last years competition, is as follows:

“Underneath the forest canopy the pests rustle and screech. A woman wanders feverishly collecting specimens to conserve in her majestic ecosanctuary. A kaleidoscope of Red Admiral butterflies ‘Kahukura’ cloak her in awe and Puriri Moths, the flying spirits of the night guide her way.”

Inspired by the Victorian craze of Pteridomania ‘Fern Fever’ and the elaborate architectural Wardian Cases she is the historical New Zealand story of naturalists and collectors, extinction and conservation. So much has been lost. An extinct Huia with its wattles, long curved beak and beautiful tail feathers has been immortalized as a bronze finial.

This woman is not the obsessed fern collector looking to adorn her cabinet for just beauty. Her ferns are more than an embellished fashion statement but her sense of national identity. She is a prowess and devoted eco-warrior seeking to protect Aotearoa’s endemic flora and fauna and inspiring future generations ‘when one fern dies, another emerges’. She wears all of her ferns with pride.”