Flair for farmyard fashion

REBECCA TURNERCountryman

There are many challenges in taking everyday farm materials and transforming them into outfits for the runway: however, the result is a visual spectacle that is fast becoming a top attraction for people attending the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.

As last year's winner of the Act Belong Commit Ag Art Wear Competition, Moora farmer Natalie Tonkin recently competed at the New Zealand National Agricultural Field Days, where her design placed second overall.

Official program and field day guide in the COUNTRYMAN newspaper, August 22, 2013

She said the chance of winning a trip to New Zealand was the main reason she entered the competition last year.

"New Zealand was beautiful. I have always wanted to go there and it was great to be able to see the designs on display at the field days in Mystery Creek and attend the gala dinner and awards night at Hamilton, " Natalie said.

"The Ag Art Wear Competition is very big in New Zealand. This year's winning design was a dried beef outfit; it was also inspiring to see the Maori women use traditional weaving techniques to make amazing garments."

In 2012, Natalie wowed the judges in Dowerin with her design, titled 'Me, the girl/artist who married the farmer'.

She said her design was symbolic of the commitment and sacrifices people made in farming.

Her design used fencing wire, tin, chain and wool pack materials and included a wire veil to encapsulate the wearer in partial isolation. Underneath the veil was a dress made of wool pack material that reflected her family's involvement in the wool industry.

The design was accessorised by some very impressive knee-high boots made of old shed tin, chain and railway nails.

Natalie also won the Landcare Awareness award with her design 'Let the birds sing', which was a traditional dress made of vine and birds' nests.

Natalie said having the opportunity to compete in New Zealand and see the country on an expenses-paid holiday was fantastic, and she encouraged people to support the competition at the Dowerin field days.

With Dowerin's inaugural Act Belong Commit Ag Art Wear Competition comprising seven entries in 2011, last year entries almost doubled to 13 and it is hoped the event will grow even more in 2013.

It is hoped the competition will continue to develop and more designers will be encouraged to enter, which puts a special spin on Australia's rural landscape.

Dowerin Events Management assistant event co-ordinator Sarah Symons said for the first time this year, entries would be judged in conjunction with Edith Cowan University.

In a bid to attract new competitors, she said invitations to compete had been sent to schools, TAFE Colleges and universities in WA, and advertisements had featured on the radio.

This year's designs will be on display at the fashion parade area at the Dowerin field days during daily showtimes.

Act Belong Commit Ag Art Wear Competition

The Act Belong Commit Ag Art Wear Competition awards will be presented at 2.30pm on August 29, with the overall winner receiving an expenses-paid trip to the New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays to compete.

The Act Belong Commit Ag Art Wear Competition was created by the New Zealand National Agricultural Field Days, however, a deed of licence has been offered to Dowerin Events Management so WA designers can compete in the event.

The competition challenges designers to create a piece of farm art for the body using agricultural products, by-products or materials found or used on the farm.

There are four categories for designers to compete in, including Avant Garde, Traditional, Under 21 and Landcare Awareness.

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