September - November 2016
Diwali - the festival of lights, sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events across the world every autumn. Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, the main theme is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Certainly, the festival cuts a swathe of joy through a dreich Scottish winter's night, and it was with genuine pleasue that I embraced the privilege of contributing to the 2016 celebrations as part of my third-year studies for the BA in Performance Cosutme.
Our clients and inspiration were Scottish Love In Action - an Edinburgh based charity that homes and educates over 500 severely disadvantaged children in Tuni, South-East India. Their work is predominantly supported by charitable donations and fundraising events throughout Edinburgh and elsewhere; one such event was the Lightastic Firework extravaganza held on the 4th and 6th of November.
For this event, 3rd Year Students at Edinburgh College of Art were asked to create extravagant costumes to be paraded, using donated saris from the charity, and lighting, with an emphasis on scale and colour.
My approach to the brief was to concentrate on the cause of the charity and to pull inspiration from childhood and playfulness in order to create a happy and exciting costume, designed to appeal to the youngest audience members, specifically in the 3 - 6 age group.
TYGER, tyger, burning bright. In
the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye. Could frame
thy fearful symmetry?
Of course I'm not the first to be inspired by Blake's image of the Tiger aflame in the jungle. Classically the 'Tyger' is a symbolic creature representing some fierce force in the human soul. It is illuminated by the fire of imagination and alludes to all sorts of worthy and complex things. But to a modern child, the Tyger (with a 'y') is perhaps more playful. The bright eyes of a pet pussy-cat keeping guard over the household, in the hallway at night. See her dance, hear her purr as she plays with her bright toys. Fearful? No. Playful is my Tyger!
Designed for a night-time event, Tyger is an illuminated costume.
Tyger features an el-emissive wire system to provide illuminted shape and definition that is softer and more subtle than could be achieved with LEDs.
Tyger's head is covered in a diffuse reflective material to catch the light without glare. The foam base is light and comfortable for the Actor.
Tyger is very much a three dimensional costume. Deep textures, reminiscent of sweets and toys are utilised coupled to bright fluorescent materials for effect.
While studying, I also work part-time with children in an after-school play setting. This has provided me with the opportunity to observe and research the learning styles and development of young children. Very small children tend to experience the world and learn strongly though touch and taste, so I decided to focus on texture and tactility. On top of using the donated sari silks I sourced children's craft materials such as craft foam sheets (2mm) pompoms, googly eyes, scoubidou strings and other such 'live links' with childhood.
Tyger was designed to maximise freedom of movement for the Actor. Though Tyger has a very large head, the Actor's face is free, which minimises the risk of them becoming overheated or claustrophobic.
Tyger is a practical, resilliant costume. Formed on a calico base, shapes and forms are created from lightweight foam materials to save weight.
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