What happens when art and attire meet

One word that pops up a lot when people are talking about the Red Point Wearable Art Showcase is "fun".

Both the organiser and the entrants have been having fun preparing for it, and everybody is expecting to have even more fun on the night.

"I'm a fun-oriented person, I like life to be fun," says event organiser Libby Bloxham, an artist and sculptor when she's not organising the showcase.

This year's event is the second Bloxham has organised - the first was in 2010 - and she plans to hold them every two years.

The highlight will be the costume parade. There will also be dance, music and circus performances.

Bloxham's interest in wearable art began when she entered a similar event held as part of Viva La Gong in 2004.

Her outfit, made from recycled electrical cable and accessorised with a handbag and hat made from old records, was the winner.

She then entered that costume in the World of WearableArt show in Wellington, New Zealand, which really opened her eyes to the potential of wearable art.

"It was just fabulous," Bloxham says. "The show over there is huge, 40,000 people come to watch it.

"The year I was over there a bloke from Alaska won it with a ballgown he had made out of wood, including a wig he had made out of all the curly shavings. It was a beautiful piece.

"That got me interested in running a show here and making more outfits."

Some of Bloxham's costumes, made from old lampshades, will be displayed tomorrow.

"I got a bit crazy with lampshades because they are so sculptural and fabulous," she says.

"I've made 17 outfits where the dress is a lampshade, and handbags, hats and parasols made to match, all made out of lampshades."

Categories in the show include a recycled materials section, a character creation category where entrants give a two-minute performance dressed in their costume, and a technical excellence category for other entries.

A new addition is a section for students.

Ruby Parossien, a year 9 student at Wollongong High School for the Performing Arts, has entered a costume called Pages to Ashes.

"It's a strapless dress made from pages of old books," Ruby says.

"I used my sewing machine to sew them together and then coated it in a lacquer.

"In my generation there is a lot of technology and I kind of got it from the idea that books aren't important any more and are becoming obsolete."

For artist Pamela Lee Brenner, who makes large-scale outdoor sculpture installations, the wearable art is an opportunity to branch out and try something different.

"It's great fun and the perfect excuse to do this type of work," she says.

Brenner's costume is entered in the recycled materials section.

"I've called it Fruity K'Tutti because it is made out of recycled materials, shopping bags and fruit nets, which makes a skirt that looks a bit like a tutu.

"Then there is a little bolero jacket made out of the ends of plastic bottles."

Elanya Selby, a mechanical engineer and member of Illawarra Craft and Art Network (ICAN), has two entries.

One is a dress that has been knitted, woven and crocheted out of videotape.

The other, made with two friends from ICAN, is a free-form crochet and knitted dress made from more regular, albeit very colourful, material.

"Because it is wearable art you have to have a bit of a wow factor and you have to have the art factor so you have to do things a little more extreme than you would for normal things to wear," Selby says.

"It's fun to experiment with these things. You start off with a bit of an idea - 'I'm going to make something out of videotape' - and then it progresses and develops into a gown that by the end of it you are quite proud of."

Pictured: Kathy Moon, Pamela Lee Brenner, Judy Bourke and Claudia Perry-Beltrame model costumes they have made for the Wearable Art Showcase. Photos: KEN ROBERTSON

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