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The WOW factor; Designer Sarah's art is success in New Zealand.

Byline: LINDA WHITWAM

HUDDERSFIELD-born designer Sarah Thomas is wowing audiences Down Under with her creative creations.

Sarah, 47, a former pupil at Salendine Nook High School, won a prestigious commission from Tourism New Zealand where she now lives to create a piece of wearable art.

Her theatrical design features a black backpack with arms covered in the colours of regional New Zealand rugby teams all reaching out to touch a rugby ball representing the globe.

Called Our Shout, it took Sarah two and a half months to create and has just been modelled on stage by New Zealand cricket star Ili Tugaga at this year's World of Wearable Art (WOW) awards.

Sarah, daughter of Jack and the late Brenda Coopland, of Marling Road, Ainley Top, is not sure how she first came up with the design.

"It was very difficult," she said. "It had to show the nature of the Rugby World Cup, the features of New Zealand, bright colours and had to be worn by a rugby player so they couldn't look silly in it.

"It is called Our Shout because New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup and to show that the Kiwis are shouting for joy."

She has twice won the Weta awards (Website of Excellence in Tourism) at the international WOW event. A previous wearable design entitled American Dream was based on the theme of a classic American car. Some of her creations are also on display in a Wellington Museum.

After leaving Salendine Nook, Sarah went to Crewe College to study craft, design and technology. She emigrated to New Zealand in 1999 and now lives in Timaru with husband David and their two daughters, Robyn and Dale.

Her father, Jack, said: "I feel very proud that Sarah has done so well. She has won these competitions and been on national television.

"She was always very arty. We always had paintings around the house and she has made a lot of clothes and even wedding dresses for people. I think Sarah takes after her mum, who was quite artistic."

An interest in creative pastimes runs in the family. Jack, who is going out to visit Sarah and family in February, is currently attending U3A art classes at Lindley Bowling Club. However, he is quite modest about his own talent.

He said: "I enjoy the classes, but I've no aspirations. I know my limitations!" Sarah's design will be on display at the Our Shout exhibition in Nelson, New Zealand, for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.

CAPTION(S):

* AMERICAN DREAM: Sarah''s novel design based on a classic American car, a previous winner in the WOW awards * WOW: Sarah Thomas''s design modelled by New Zealand cricketer Ili Tugaga Below: Sarah with one of her creative pieces
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Oct 4, 2011
Words:460
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