My costumes have always been quite three dimensional, but in recent years with the development of my special effects work I have enjoyed combining costume with sculpture.
As a result, I have produced a contemporary take on the ‘Good Witch Glinda’ for the ‘Echoes of Oz’ show. The costume was made from Perspex mirror and plumbing tubing and designed to both reflect the lights and to cast external shadows when lit from within. I added bubbles around her on thin wires which was complimented by a bubble machine underneath her.
I see costumes as central to a performance, they develop and create the character. Because I am both a performer and costumier, I have the understanding to experiment with pushing the boundaries of the costumes.
With my Skinning the Cat costumes I had to work with the wear and tear on the ropes and they must survive hundreds of shows. I have developed a technique of using a lycra base the adding shapes and decoration with very thin strips of leather. This, I found, is the best way to achieve clear lines. Also, leather is the only material which, in my experience, is strong enough to survive long on the ropes.
The acrobat costume which is in the ‘Victoria and Albert Museum’ was made for the show Chameleon. The costume itself is the chameleon. It is one of a pair of costumes made for the doubles trapeze, its partner is a bird. The show was about how we all sometimes need to escape from the mundaneness of life. The chameleon symbolised change.
I chose the colours of the chameleon costume for their reptilian feel and because they contrasted well with the colours of its partner, the bird. To make the main body, I cut my pattern into vertical strip sections in order to give the irregular effect of different colours. These strips were separated by a variety of coloured and sized prickles which reflect the image of those strange, unknown tropical fruits you see in the greengrocers. None of my costumes is based in any scientific reality.
The costume has been worn by three different aerialists and if you look inside (please don’t- it’s a mess!) you will see that it has been hacked around to fit different people. Many layers of new sequins have been added over the years as the old ones dropped off or lost their shine. This has created a rather organic effect.
‘Sideshow Barb’ from the show ‘Rubicon’. This character has two versions both an aerial and stilts version (you just put the hooped trousers on top when wearing stilts) and really represents the contemporary circus/traditional circus crossover as the character is something like a mix between a ring master, the devil and the joker, we called her sideshow Barb as the character was played a bit like ‘Sideshow Bob’ in The Simpsons (a rather twisted personality!) and obviously, we were all female so it became Barbara!
The ‘Scrimple’ character from the show ‘Rubicon’
My ‘Firebird’ costume which was for my solo act, the most well worn, re-sequinned and well-loved of all the costumes I created.
We called the costume shown below the ‘drippy’ costume which is from the show ‘Enchantress’.
‘Snake woman’ costume from the show ‘Rubicon’
‘Blue bird’ costume from the show ‘Phenomena’
‘Lou’s costume’ from show ‘Chameleon’