Awards Showcase picWhile the event took the audience to the four corners of the earth, it was South Canterbury talent that took out the major awards.

Sixty-one entries from around the country and Australia were paraded at Timaru's Theatre Royal on Saturday for the New Zealand Hat and Hair Art Awards.

The night was made more special by the announcement that main sponsor Mazda would back the event again next year.

This year's show, Four Corners of the Earth, featured the corresponding four categories; the west which focused on the modern world, the north centring on the arctic circle, the east which encapsulated the old orient and the south focusing on the indigenous cultures and tribal elements of pacific nations.

For first time entrants Sabina Turner and Sonia Andrews it was a very successful night as the Pleasant Point mother and daughter duo took out the supreme hair art award with their south entry Sangoma.

"I am glad it is over but blown away by winning," Mrs Andrews said.

"I have always been interested in tribal things and when the section came up I thought we just had to enter," Mrs Turner said.

Timaru woman Donna Coles also joined in the success, winning the supreme hat award with her entry in the west section Aria's Jazz. "I am in shocked ... it was wonderful [to win]," she said.

This was the third year she had entered, with her entry taking four months to make.

"Aria's Jazz was inspired by my love of music and dancing, the theme was through the ages and it had an old 45 record on it and a CD."

pushing the boundaries

NZ Hat and Hair Art Awards - Multimedia

SPF Multimedia supply expert services to the Mazda 2009 NZ Hat and Hair Art Awards.

SPF Multimedia returned to the Theatre Royal this year to supply multimedia presentation software and content at the prestigious Hat & Hair Awards. This year's event, again under the event direction of Denise Whyte, and entitled The Four Corners of the Earth attracted creative talent from around the country and Australia.

Creative director Aaron Williams has used SPF Multimedia in the past, most notably for his first Hat & Hair Awards show in 2005. Pushing for the use of plasma screens for live information display, Aaron is now realising his vision of a show supported by the latest in event technology. The bright, sharp, plasma image, flown above the stage, could be seen clearly by everyone in the 1000-seater theatre.

With presentation software especially designed and built for the show, SPF were confident they could handle the run order, photographs and information of over sixty contestants and more than twenty sponsors. "There's not much time between when we photograph the hair and the show goes up," said SPF principal Robyn von Pein. Around two hundred images have to be processed and put in the right place by the Saturday afternoon deadline. Meticulous preparation is key to success, combined with the experience gained on many similar events at this and other Canterbury venues.

"We love working with Aaron," Robyn said, "we have this situation where we have to interpret his vision in ways that will work both artistically and technically. He's always pushing the boundaries, and that makes exciting challenges for us too." Mazda return as gold sponsors of the show in 2010, and the theme is already chosen - A Century of Cinema. SPF are looking forward to working on ever bigger, brighter, and more integrated multimedia at the next Hat & Hair Awards.

Heady times, amazing designs set audience abuzz


Heady Times picThe New Zealand Hat and Hair Awards has emerged from its awkward adolescence and found its identity as an iconic national event.

The ceremony took centre stage on Saturday night at the Timaru Theatre Royal.

Event director Denise Whyte and creative director Aaron Williams have proved a powerful force when combined to bring about the best show yet.

A dramatic light display set the show off, with a matrix themed dance to launch the visual extravaganza about to unfold.

Diamonds truly were a woman's best friend in the Totally Bling section, with a cleverly choreographed dance between the sections to the Sex in the City theme, complete with a poodle and Paris lookalike, before the second section of amazing blinged-out hair designs.

The strong start got the crowd buzzing, with an audience member commenting: "I can't take my eyes off the stage".

The Tesoro hat and hair art sections brought a sophisticated element to the awards with opulent fabrics and designs, ultimately producing the overall hair art winner Jennie Hasler-Jacobs with her entry, Elizabeth.

Between the sections another fantastic choreographed dance to a modern song in aristocratic clothing.

Half-time came with the crowd chatting and everyone having an opinion. The opening of the second half was a standout tribal performance to start the Taonga section which left audience members with goosebumps.

This section was a real triumph as the designers interpreted their Aotearoa. The section produced the supreme overall hat winner with Sarah Thomas's entry, Moko.

The final section was Taj Mahal, a take on architecture around the world. Sructurally, the varied and ingenius designs complemented each other beautifully.

All-local stage set for Chicago


The set of the South Canterbury Drama League's upcoming production Chicago will be one of the biggest locally designed and built in a number of years.

The six-metres tall by 9.6 metres wide cell block wall will also be the largest piece of flown scenery ever in the Theatre Royal.

In contrast to several previous productions the set is purely locally designed, built and sourced.

Designed by Timaru's Aaron Williams the gigantic set includes a large scaffolding structure as its skeleton, erected by United Scaffolding.

While timber is usually used to build a set, it was decided for this energetic musical the metal scaffolding would be more structurally sound.

A new dance floor which covers the whole stage has also been laid down.

While some sets have just a backing piece on the stage, the Chicago set is three-sided.

Structures such as these are usually found in smaller theatres, but not commonly put on the Theatre Royal stage.

It has taken almost four months to put the large work together. It was moved into the Theatre Royal last weekend.

While just half a dozen men constructed it in the initial stages, a crew of about 25 men have now become surrogate builders to have it completed by Saturday.

An interesting piece of property which will also take to the stage in the production is a glossy black piano painted by panelbeater Stu Jenkins.

Formally an old brown wooden piano beyond salvage, it has been gutted and painted using the same technique as car painting.

Mr Williams said everything was black, so when the lighting was not on the stage there was nothing.

"It was an attempt to make a gigantic set which also disappeared," he laughed.

The show is to open next Saturday, August 4.