A riot of larger-than-life flowers and fruit has taken over the the former Tea Kiosk in the Botanic Gardens.
The flamboyant fabric creations of local costume artist Jenny Gillies are on show in the newly reopened Christchurch Botanic Gardens Kiosk Gallery for the next six months, in an exhibition called Enchanted Garden.
Jenny says the building is a special place for Christchurch residents and there is a lot of anticipation around its reopening. Her fun, floral costumes are a perfect match for this central spot in the Gardens, she says.
“I see something that inspires me and I just go for it. Nature inspires me and what we have in the Botanic Gardens is amazing. It’s quite nice that the exhibition and what’s outside complement each other.
"It is great to have the kiosk open again and with the Duck, Duck cafe around the corner people can come in and have a look at the exhibition and then have a coffee."
The costumes and hats, made from luxurious silk, satin and velvet are displayed on posed mannequins with humorous touches such as a bird of paradise outfit with a pointy pair of what Jenny laughingly describes as “big hooters”. Showing her creations on mannequins rather than live models allows people to see the intricate details and workmanship up close, she says.
The creations are grouped together by theme. In the Canterbury section a mondo grass outfit is displayed on a mannequin wearing red and black socks and natives such as clematis, kowhai and Mount Cook lily stand together. There is a cluster of orchids, and a mini-orchard of fruit – including a pear, a cherry, and a kiwifruit bra that won a World of Wearable Arts award in 2005.
Each costume takes up to three months to put together and this exhibition of 40 is made up of old favourites and new work that has not been seen in Christchurch before.
“It’s just so gorgeous to see them all up," Jenny says. "Some of them haven’t been seen in years, particularly the natives section, and it’s nice for tourists to see some of our iconic flowers.”
Jenny plans to change the display to suit the season, so they will reflect real flowers blooming in the Botanic Gardens. The title Enchanted Garden sums up Jenny’s approach which is to combine botanical reality with fantasy. She likes to have fun and make people laugh.
The Christchurch artist has worked as a costume designer for theatre, film and opera and won multiple gongs in the Montana World of Wearable Art Awards before moving into live performances and fashion shows. Her most recent exhibition in Christchurch was with floral designer Patricia Proctor at the Transitional Cathedral earlier this year.
* Enchanted Garden at the Botanic Gardens Kiosk Gallery is open daily, 10am-4pm (Closed Christmas and New Year's Day)
*Admission fee for adults is $10. For seniors, students and children (five and over) $5. Children under five are free and a family concession (two adults, two Children) is $15