Friday, March 4, 2011


In late 1998 I plucked up the courage to apply for Fashion Design School in Wellington. When this became known amongst my peers in Palmerston North there were a few discouraging comments implying that I didn’t have the talent to get in. These comments really made me doubt my own ability, so when I applied and was accepted to the course I had a real sense of pride.

I was so excited at having got into the course and really felt that I had found myself. I thought that I was finally going to be someone, and make something of my life.  Due to the brain trauma in 2000, I don’t remember a huge amount from 1999 but I do remember that I loved it when people asked what I did and when I replied that I was studying Fashion Design, that I didn’t get put down as I had with my Bachelor of Arts.  In reality though, I had never taken art at school and had to trace the figurines to draw my designs onto for my portfolio that I submitted. The truth was I was going into totally unknown territory.

Everyone in my course had taken art at high school and it was second nature to them, but many had never sewn. I was the opposite and while I was comfortable sewing, I found the huge number of pages of drawing required quite overwhelming. 

In saying that, I absolutely loved my course, and equally loved the feeling that I actually had some artistic talent within me. During 1999 I started painting for the first time but couldn’t really paint what I saw particularly well at all. I always painted the only way I had ever done, painting what I perceived.

I was absolutely obsessed with fabric and the different textiles that were available, and nothing would thrill me more than to go into a fabric shop and walk around feeling the different fabrics.

Another thing that was a real boost to my confidence during that year was that I got approached twice by people within the university to do plus-size modelling. I was the biggest size that I had ever been and was just so amazed and thrilled that somebody could see beauty in me. 

I was asked to start modelling for art students to draw, and also did a shoot with a photography student. I found the shoot with her very amusing as the theme for the shoot was ‘melancholy‘ and yet I had never been happier in my life. She wanted me to model wearing clothing that I had made which also delighted me.

During 1999 I was taken to hospital several times with the same symptoms as in 1998.  I would have an extremely severe headache and blurred vision, but be conscious enough to get someone to take me into hospital and could give my full medical history. Then the next morning I would have no idea why I was there, would have a MRI scan of my brain that showed nothing abnormal (apart from my tumour) and would have absolutely no memory of the night before.

The shunt in my brain draining the cerebral fluid from my ventricles was blocking, causing the symptoms, and then clearing within several hours

1999 year was the year that I felt like I had finally found myself and what I was meant to be doing with my life. In hindsight I am so very glad that I didn’t know just how drastically that was all going to change in 2000.