Outfit, ‘Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path,’ designed by Jenny Kee and Masohiro Nakagawa

Made by Somerville, Greg in Australia, Oceania, 2006.

The outfit ‘Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking The Sacred Path’, designed by Masahiro Nakagawa and Jenny Kee, exemplifies the design ethos of Tokyo Recycle project #15. The garment is a collaborative effort with Chloe Simcox and the Japanese design team of Nakagawa Sochi headed by Masahiro Nakagawa. The design team gather together items of clothing and interview each participant to determine personal meanings associated with the clothing before deconstructing the clothing, reconstructin...

Summary

Object No.

2006/128/1

Physical Description

Outfit, 'Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path', cotton / silk / organdie / muslin / wood, designed by Jenny Kee and Masahiro Nakagawa, made by Jenny Kee, Chloe Simcox, Linda Jackson, Paula Martin and Greg Somerville, Australia, 2005 - 2006

The outfit is a sculptural costume piece with its hands in prayer position. At the top is a headpiece sculpted out of translucent organdie and muslin forming the shape of a white waratah with an outer sheath of petal shapes and featuring 2 leggings, 2 long sleeves, knitted vest, bustle skirt in the shape of a waratah, silk Tibetan blessing scarves stencilled with motifs of the goddess Tara, t-shirt dress, kimono, head and collar, quiver, bow and arrow. The garment features couched cord applied to the outer layer of the work spelling out a Tibetan Buddhist mantra.

Dimensions

Width

820 mm

Production

Notes

"Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path' is a sculptural costume piece consisting of leggings, long sleeves, knitted vest, bustle skirt, T-shirt dress, kimono, head and collar, quiver and bow and arrow. Jenny collaborated with Japanese design team, Nakagawa Sochi headed by Masahiro Nakagawa in the Tokyo Recycle Project #15 as part of the 'The cutting edge: fashion from Japan' exhibition in October 2005 to produce the original dress. Jenny donated a box of t-shirts designed by her and worn by her partner Danton Hughes. The t-shirts were worked together with a white silk kimono to create an extravagant dress complete with colourful leggings and a bustle in the shape of a waratah, a signature design motif for Kee.

Inspired by the recycle project, Jenny transformed the garment into a sculptural costume piece. With the help of a team of artisans and friends, they created a headpiece of soft translucent organdie and muslin forming the shape of the white waratah. Jenny also added an outer sheath of petal shapes recycled from the white kimona. A Jenny Kee handknit worn by Danton Hughes since he was 15 is incorporated as a warrior's vest. A bow and arrow, symbolizing compassion and wisdom respectively, was made from t-shirts and twigs and modelled on a bow and arrow that Danton Hughes originally made for a child. The bow is a symbol of love.

The designer Linda Jackson, contributed kartas (silk Tibetan blessing scarves) stencilled with motifs of the goddess Tara and the waratah which have been incorporated into the work.

The garment features couched cord worked by Greg Somerville and applied to the outer layer of the work spelling out a Tibetan Buddhist mantra. The essential meaning of the Vajrasattva mantra is - 'through your power may you bring about purification, healing and transformation'.

Paula Martin created the head and headdress, and Chloe Simcox worked with Nakagawa and interpreted Kee's additions to the original design.

Made

Somerville, Greg 2006

Designed

Nakagawa, Masahiro 2005

History

Notes

Jenny Kee, born 1947 of Chinese Italian descent, grew up in Bondi, Sydney and studied at East Sydney Technical College for eighteen months before travelling to the U.K in 1964 to work with Vernon Lambert at his Chelsea Antique Market.

Kee opened the boutique Flamingo Park in 1972 selling retro clothing and later formed a partnership with fashion and textile designer Linda Jackson. Jackson and Kee were famous for the use of uniquely Australian flora and fauna motifs on their characteristically colourful knitwear. Jenny began painting in 1976 after surviving the Granville train crash. Jenny viewed the event as a turning point. Her paintings of opals, tropical fish, exotic parrots, flowers and animals were printed onto exotic silks. They featured in Italian Vogue and were used by Chanel in Paris.

The 'Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path' outfit was created by fashion and textile designer Jenny Kee in tribute to her late partner Danton Hughes. The work culminated a year of creative endeavour that began in October 2005 during the Tokyo Recycle Project #15 held during 'The cutting edge: fashion from Japan' exhibition. The project, the brainchild of Masahiro Nakagawa, invited participants to come to the Museum to have their old or unworn clothes and textiles transformed into something new and wearable. Working from a design studio set up at the Museum, the Japanese designers held personal consultations with the participants aiming to uncover the sentiment and meaning behind each item of clothing. The project critiqued consumerism and the fashion cycle but also aimed to resuscitate memory and feelings associated with the clothing.

The concept of recycling and attaching meaning to clothing excited Jenny Kee who is renowned for her work as a fashion and textile designer. Jenny contributed a box of t-shirts designed by her and worn by her partner of 11 years, Danton Hughes 33, whose suicide at Kee's Blue Mountains home in 2001 left her devastated. The garments held precious memories for Jenny and was transformed by the Japanese design team, Nakagawa Sochi, and Chloe Simcox into an extravagant garment complete with colourful leggings and bustle in the shape of a waratah, a signature design motif for Kee.

Greatly inspired by the Japanese team and the recycle project, Jenny worked on the original concept to create a sculptural costume piece infused with meaning and memories that pay homage to Danton.

The garment symbolises a cocoon protecting the 'Waratah Warrior'. Jenny added to the garment a Vajrasattva mantra in couched cord applied to the outer layer of the work.The wording of the mantra underscores Jenny's strong beliefs and the importance she has placed on the quest for purification, healing and transformation. As Jenny explains, "It is my life's work now to bring about purification and healing and transformation. The mantra or prayer which I say all the time is the Vajrasattva mantra. The essential meaning of this mantra is through your power may you bring about purification, healing and transformation. I say this mantra many times a day; it is like a crutch for me. It supports me and helps to purify my many negative actions and emotions.

With this work, I wanted to create a work that was symbolic of healing and transformation. It is my homage to Danton..."

Danton Hughes, Kee's partner of 11 years, was a sculptor and son of expatriate art critic Robert Hughes and Australian artist, Danne.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2006

Acquisition Date

26 September 2006

Cite this Object

Harvard

Outfit, 'Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path,' designed by Jenny Kee and Masohiro Nakagawa 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 July 2018, <https://ma.as/362685>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/362685 |title=Outfit, 'Transformer: White Waratah Warrior, Walking the Sacred Path,' designed by Jenny Kee and Masohiro Nakagawa |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 July 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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