Art student’s imagination runs wild

Otago Polytechnic  School of Art third-year student Stephanie Cossens  shows off the collection...
Otago Polytechnic School of Art third-year student Stephanie Cossens shows off the collection of animal busts she made for her final-year visual arts project. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
A sudden downpour did not prevent five "wild animals"  stampeding down Dunedin’s main street yesterday.

Lunchtime passers-by stopped in their tracks, some with mouths open and cameras out, as the giant heads of a bear, rhino, walrus, gorilla and shark raced by.

Hiding beneath the towering  furry creations of Stephanie Cossens, an Otago Polytechnic School of Art student, were five female volunteers.

Miss Cossens said the furry procession aimed to make a statement about bringing the plight of women and animals to the cityscape.

"I chose a group of five women to don the suits as a way to start a conversation about the need for visibility for women in society and animals as well, being as we are in the sixth mass extinction of species."

The soft, 12kg sculptures, made from chicken wire, newspaper, pillow foam and a layer of acrylic fur, each  took from three to eight weeks  to make and were the final project for the bachelor of visual arts honours student.

Many people wanted to touch the  heads, Miss Cossens said.

Rata Scott von Tippelskirch, who donned the walrus head, said it was cosy.

"It simultaneously felt like being hugged and giving a piggyback to an endangered species."

The public would have the opportunity to have another close encounter with the creatures when they went on display in the Otago Polytechnic School of Art SITE exhibition from November 19-23.

After the show, she intended to fly the menagerie to Wellington, where she would live  after graduating, Miss Cossens said.

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