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Wearable Art

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Writer: Sam Cunnane

Media: Mixed Media

Curriculum Level: 4

Year Level: 9

Duration: 9 - 12 periods

Assessment: Tchr & Peer

Images shown in this unit and supporting information are sourced from, and can be accessed through  Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Rauparaha Wearing a Naval Uniform, Late 1840s

Source: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

'Kiwi Quarter Acre', 1997

Source: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Graffiti Dress 'Bombacific', 1995

Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

This resource is offered as an example of a unit that engages with the "front end" of The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) - considering Vision, Principles, Values, and Key Competencies, as well as Achievement Objectives.*Teachers are encouraged to use or modify this work in any way they find helpful for their programmes and their students. For example, it may be inappropriate to assess all students at level 5.


Teachers have the option to require students to investigate a selection of traditional clothing items and wearable art works. Students make their own wearable art accessory based on their local culture and environment.



 Confident - producing an item of wearable art from self-sourced materials helps students to develop confidence in their ability to be resourceful.

Connected - working in pairs and small groups enables students to develop their ability to relate well to others. Producing an item of wearable art which is based on their local culture and environment enables students to reflect on themselves as people who are connected to the land and environment, and who are members of communities.

Actively involved - reflecting on, and making art works in response to, their local environment and community motivates students to be more active participants in a range of social and cultural contexts.

Lifelong learners - comparing traditional and contemporary approaches to costume and wearable art helps students to develop critical and creative thinking skills. Producing an artwork in response to a range of motivations helps to develop students' creativity.


High Expectations - there are near endless opportunities for students to strive for personal excellence through the production of an item of wearable art: students are challenged to make an art work that clearly communicates their ideas, while meeting the technical challenges of being worn.

Treaty of Waitangi - through investigation of selected assets students develop an understanding of the changes that occurred in New Zealand and the Pacific in the 19th Century: the historical context during which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

Cultural diversity - students are introduced to costumes from a range of cultures. They are required to bring aspects of their own social and cultural identity to the making of the item of wearable art, and share these with other members of their class.

Inclusion - working together to produce items of wearable art which include aspects of the students' society and local environment helps them to develop an awareness and appreciation of others' life experiences.

Coherence - students make links to other curriculum areas (particularly Social Sciences and Technology) through the study of historical items of clothing and the fabrication of garments.VALUES:Excellence - students are encouraged to aim high through the use of high quality art works as exemplars of good practice.

Innovation, inquiry and curiosity - students are encouraged to think critically, creatively and reflectively throughout the art-making process.

Diversity - student are encouraged to value diversity through the use of costume and wearable art exemplars showing a range of cultural identities.


Thinking - students will critically analyse visual and written information about selected items of clothing and art works, with particular reference to the cultural signifiers they embody.

Using language, symbols and texts - students will make meaning from the symbols and texts they are presented with, and use symbols to produce their own visual texts.

Managing self - students will work to present a range of tasks by a set deadline.

Relating to others and Participating and contributing - students will interact with their classmates in small and large groups to investigate information and produce art works.

UC - Understanding the Arts in Context Students will investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued. Students will investigate the ways in which selected painted portraits reflect the contexts were made.
PK - Developing Practical Knowledge Students will explore and use art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes. Students will explore and use selected conventions, elements, materials and processes to make self-portraits that show an understanding of the Rita Angus self-portrait 'Rutu'.
DI - Developing Ideas Students will develop and revisit visual ideas, in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination, supported by the study of artists' works. Students will develop and revisit visual ideas in response to the study of a selection of artists' works, observation of their peers' art-making processes, and through using their imaginations.
CI - Communicating and Interpreting Students will explore and describe ways in which meanings can be communicated and interpreted in their own work and others' work. Students will explore and describe ways in which elements of personal and cultural identity can be communicated through a self-portrait.


  • Data Projector and screen
  • Printed versions of selected DigiStore assets, or access to DigiStore online for at least 4 groups of students
  • A range of materials for the production of wearable artworks. The materials required will largely be selected and sourced by the students.


Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Assessment Schedule

Student Peer Assessment for Optional Investigation

Student Peer Assessment

Teaching and Learning Sequence - Teacher Copy

Student Information Sheet

Student Task Sheet

Student Information Sheet - Optional

Student Task Sheet - Optional

Te Rauparaha Wearing a Naval Uniform, Late 1840s

Woman's Dress, Early 1900s

Man's Jacket, c1900

Chasuble, 1978

Graffiti Dress 'Bombacific', 1995'

Kiwi Quarter Acre', 1997

Printing this unit

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