10 Favourite Things: Beauty and truth

Costume designer Tracey Collins' well-trained eye is drawn to sculptural pieces and artistic expression in all its forms.

Tracey Collins, costume and production designer for new film White Lies. Photo / Babiche Martens

The picturesque but remote bush of Te Urewera has been home to production and costume designer Tracey Collins for the past year while she has worked on White Lies, the film adaptation of Witi Ihimaera's novella Medicine Woman. Living and shooting on location gave her the opportunity to bring a cultural authenticity to the film by incorporating the knowledge of local artists, healers and weavers.

Set in the 1920s, the film (in cinemas from tomorrow) is a reflection of the cultural conflict between Maori and the European settlers, seen through the eyes of its main characters: a Maori medicine woman (played by Whirimako Black), a wealthy European (Antonia Prebble) and her Maori servant (Rachel House). It's the latest addition to Collins' long list of productions spanning television, film and theatre, and including projects such as The Almighty JohnsonsSione's 2: Unfinished Business and the first two films in the Narnia series. The 2011 Aotearoa Film & Television Award for Best Production is one of the many awards she has collected for her designs.

Here, the ever-stylish Collins describes her favourite pieces from her collection of artwork and books - and the allure of John Fluevog shoes.


1. Studio Archirivolto chairs

I love my "Punk" chairs designed by Studio Archirivolto. They're great pieces of sculpture sitting in my space.

2. Rivoting Old Roads to New Roads

After I visited Venice a few years ago, I came home and created a large painting of an Auckland map, titled Rivoting Old Roads to New Roads. It's quite stylised and colourful. I designed a new transport system for the city, with more train lines and ferry lines linking Auckland via water. After travelling via vaporetto [water bus] in Venice, I wished Auckland could have more ferries for transportation.

3. Found kelp

It has such otherworldly quality in its sculptural form. It's twisted and organic and sits well, I think, as a contrast piece on my bookshelves. It was found at Piha Beach by a friend, and given to me as a present.

4. Kundalini hand-shaped lamp

Made of bright red glass by Italian glassmakers and designed by Future Systems, it gives off the most beautiful red aura of light. It's exotic and calming, and the hand-shaped form seems to carry a kind of knowing wisdom; it glows from within.

5. Domus

My complete set of Domus, compiled by Taschen into 12 volumes, features cutting-edge architecture, interiors, urban design and decorative arts from 1928 to 1999. It's always inspirational.

6. Art collection

I really love collecting art, and I love living with it, so I have it everywhere in my apartment. Every time you look at art it seems to give you another perspective. One of my favourite works is a glitter work by Reuben Paterson, which he gave me a few years ago. It's quite different in style to his well-known work. It's quite an experimental piece - I just love it!

7. John Fluevog shoes

My turquoise, red and white John Fluevogs, bought in New York three years ago, are a firm favourite. I've only worn them out once, but I love looking at them every day in my wardrobe.

8. Japanese pottery

Another favourite is my collection of random pieces of art pottery. Most of it I got in Japan, some was created by my friend, New Zealand potter Jacqui Brown, from her time in Japan. I use most of my pieces nearly every day.

9. Books

I have many books I love, and I like to just browse them over and over and enjoy each for its unique visual language. New Worlds: Maps from the Age of Discovery is a big book of beautiful drawings and etchings of world maps dating back to 1475.

10. Sam Mitchell artwork

Another work of art I'm really enjoying at the moment is by Sam Mitchell. The composition features portraits of David Bowie painted on an old book cover.

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