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Tasmanian seaweed fashion for style and education

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Three women standing together
Modelling Leafy seadragon seaweed print bodysuits, from left, Clare Bradley, Rebecca Barclay and Rebecca Lawton.

Tasmanian print artist Deborah Wace has introduced her designs to an international audience, combining bodysuits styled after the Leafy seadragon with detailed prints of seaweeds.

The designs were showcased during the International Seaweed Symposium in Hobart in February, when three New Zealand delegates wore the bodysuits to the symposium dinner.

“I had the amazing experience of the seaweed scientist Rebecca Barclay coming up to my studio and borrowing my lycra, full-body costume designs in seaweed, to wear at the end of conference dinner and party,” says Deborah.

“These suits were specially designed for my film project - The Sartorial Naturalist - and made by Celyna Ziolkowsk. They certainly proved incredibly popular with all the delegates.”

Deborah says given the interest from delegates, she is hoping to gain traction from the scientific and research community around the world for the designs, which combine fabric design with educational outcomes.

As a conversation starter, the designs aim to raise awareness about threatened ecosystems, encouraging more people to protect them. Seaweed is an essential habitat for Leafy seadragons which are endemic to Australia’s southern waters.

Rebecca Barclay, senior project manager from EnviroStrat, wore the kelp forest design. Dr Rebecca Lawton, senior lecturer at the University of Waikato, wore a red and white seaweed design. Clare Bradley, CEO of AgriSea, wore a wore red and black design.

Deobrah’s prints also feature at the ‘Beneath the Surface’ exhibition on at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart until the end of March 2023.

Left, detail of a Deborah Wace seaweed print, and right, items on display at 'Beneath the Surface' exhibition.


Deborah's film, The Sartorial Naturalist, is a 12-minute feature showing her artistic process and how she incorporates nature into her fabric designs.

“It showcases my new flora designs on silk, linen and wallpaper, inspired by the wild flora of Tasmania and the herbarium collections which I researched in France, Italy and the UK during my Churchill Fellowship in 2018,” says Deborah.

The film was developed with the help of grants from the Australia Council, Arts Tasmania and Screen Tasmania.

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