Welcome to the jungle: NZ Body Art Awards 2008 (+photos)

By Eveline Harvey, Eveline Jenkin

Artists competing in this year's NZ Body Art Awards at the North Shore Events Centre drew inspiration from all manner of places to create a show bursting with fantastical creatures and creative whimsy.

Winner of the Special Effects Creature category, Estela Shen, said she based her many-legged orange creation on a type of centipede common in her home country of Taiwan.

"I saw this thing in my toilet and thought 'What the hell is this doing in my house'," she said.

"But then I thought, it's actually kind of cool, so it became my inspiration for this work."

Now in its eighth year, the body art awards have grown to become a major event for the local art industry.

A panel of local and international judges - including Weta Workshop's multi-Oscar winner Richard Taylor and acclaimed Australian body artist Lynne Jamieson - were looking for a range of factors in the entries, including design, application and originality.

The jungle theme provided a sense of continuity across nine separate judging categories, ranging from best airbrushed body painting to the popular fluorescent illusion section.

The supreme award went to Carmel McCormick, whose dual entry of a lizard man and a jungle boy impressed the adjudicators.

McCormick - who also won the supreme award last year - said she was delighted to win the top prize in the Hand Painted Body Art category for the third year running and felt "unbelievably lucky".

In accepting the supreme award she thanked her models, who she said were her "number one priority" and said she was not certain when she began painting on Saturday morning how the designs would turn out.

"I couldn't believe how it all came together in the end," she said.

The model for McCormick's lizard, Levi, was awarded the prize for best performance by a model.

He spent much of the show on all fours, standing only to accept his award at the end of the night.

"That feels better," he said. "It's like doing a thousand push-ups."

Even local body politicians got into the spirit of the event, with North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams crawling ape-like to the podium in his Tarzan-themed suit before delivering his speech.

Guest judge Lynne Jamieson said all the entrants were to be congratulated for their use of a canvas that was not flat and could not be "put away in a cupboard for a few months" while the artist waited for inspiration to strike.

Full list of award winners:

Supreme Winner: Carmel McCormick

Best Performance By A Model: Levi (model for Carmel McCormick's lizard)

Best Emerging Artist: Kelly Zhong Ni Ren

Hand Painted Body Art

Winner: Carmel McCormick (first equal with two entries)
Special Commendation: Kelly Zhong Ni Ren

Air Brushed Body Art

Winner: Yolanda Bartram
Special Commendation: Philip DuChard

Masquerade Mask

Winner: Estela Shen
Special Commendation: Tracey Trinder

Special Effects Fantasy

Winner: Kim Stevenson
Special Commendation: Michelle Perry

Special Effects Creatures

Winner: Estela Shen
Special Commendation: Andrea Hows

The World of Fluorescent Illusion

Winner: Nicole Heydenrijk
Special Commendation: Dara Wakely

Prosthetic and Rubber Masks

Winner: Magdalena O'Connor
Special Commendation: Maria Wood

Ethnic/Tribal

Winner: Jennifer Savannah
Special Commendation: Kim Boyd

Te Moko Maori

Winner: Hayley Marlow
Special Commendation: Bobby McDonald

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