A Whangārei creation made an imposing appearance on the show stage in Wellington's World of Wearable Art in the form of a giant inflatable Medusa head.

Local business Palmer Canvas was commissioned by WOW to build the prop for the show that attracted more than 60,000 visitors in the past weeks.

Palmer Canvas specialises in fabric architecture installation and has created props for previous WOW shows.

The Medusa head blown up to its full size. Photo / Supplied
The Medusa head blown up to its full size. Photo / Supplied

Former owner, Warwick Bell who designed Whangārei's Canopy Bridge, was design director for the project.

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"We [Palmer Canvas] have become known for being able to build installations like large, inflatable 3D objects," Bell said.

"Creating things for theatre and show like WOW is one of my favourite disciplines. They can be unusual creations."

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They were contacted by WOW who had a concept sketch from an Australian artist who had envisioned a giant Medusa head on one of their stages.

The artist imagined the head, broken off a marble statue, to arise from the bottom of the ocean – in other words, the enormous Medusa head was meant to inflate live on stage.

The artist sent Bell the drawing and a little plaster model he had built to scale which Bell and his crew used as their template.

To digitalise the model, Bell's team took photos of the Medusa head and fed it into a programme that created a three-dimensional image and, in the next step, calculated the dimensions for an inflated object.

Warwick Bell is the designer of the Whangārei Canopy Bridge. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Warwick Bell is the designer of the Whangārei Canopy Bridge. Photo / Michael Cunningham

"The programme gives us all the patterns and baffles," Bell explained. "Baffle is what we call a specific feature in the structure, like the nose of the Medusa."

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After compiling all information digitally, the team went ahead and stitched the fabric together to create the 5 by 3m installation.

Bell's main focus throughout the process was connecting between the event organisers and artists, and the crew that worked on the Medusa head to ensure to ready-made product is fit for purpose.

"What it all boils down to is that we're working as a team," Bell said. "So many skills are required, and we all have to work together."

Once the Medusa head was stitched together, they blow up the installation to check fault, and sure, the design was flawless.

Warwick Bell and Palmer Canvas created WOW's giant Medusa head. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Warwick Bell and Palmer Canvas created WOW's giant Medusa head. Photo / Michael Cunningham

"Sometimes, we have to do a few corrections. In this case, Medusa had a bit of a Muldoon cheek, so we had to fix that," Bell said.

After all canvas work was completed, Palmer Canvas passed Medusa on to local artist Wayne Gray whose job it was, to bring the head alive with paint.

The process was completed after about 10 weeks, and Bell says the team was happy with the result.