'World of WearableArt' meets The Lord of the Rings

Matching over seventy New Zealand locations (excluding studios) to the places described in such richly evocative detail by Tolkien was not the only huge challenge facing director Peter Jackson and his crew. A believable portrayal of the fantastic Middle-Earth adventures would also require a small army of artisans and craftspeople to render drawings into costumes, armour, weaponry, and props - all to be designed and made from scratch rather than hired or bought, as is often the case with other movies. And for the 48,000 separate items produced for the film (including 1000 suits of armour and 2000 stunt weapons) it was going to be quite an undertaking!

Luckily for Jackson, the healthy state of the arts and crafts scene in New Zealand meant a good supply of talented hands more than ready to help out with such a memorable project. Professional armour maker Stuart Johnson, winner of the 2002 Montana New Zealand Supreme 'World of WearableArt' Award, was one who answered the call. Johnson, an 'armourer, blacksmith and jeweller', began making armour when he was 14. Inspired by the myth of a Greek goddess, his award-winning entry 'Persephone's Descent', demonstrated the type of skill brought to bear by so many of the kiwi craftspeople working on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Described as an event where art comes off the wall and onto the body, Wellington's annual 'World of WearableArt' awards are a fashion extravaganza, avant-garde art show and circus-like performance rolled into one glittering experience. Initially devised in 1987 by local potter Suzie Moncrieff as a fund-raiser for a local gallery, the event has blossomed into a four-day cultural and artistic feast attracting considerable international attention and media interest.

Visitors to Nelson can now enjoy the highlights of the WearableArt Awards year round at 'The World of WearableArt' (WOW) and Classic Cars Gallery, a purpose-built showcase venue involving moving mannequins, an Illumination Experience, an audiovisual facility and collection of classic cars. The perfect home for the WOW awards, Nelson is known for its lively artisan community, long sunshine hours, relaxed lifestyle and stunning scenery.

(Material provided with the input of Tourism New Zealand - www.purenz.com)

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