Press Release: Modern Makers Performance


School Pupils Design Costumes for Spectacular Weekend Performance

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Photo by Colin Hattersley
Photo by Colin Hattersley

Modern Makers allows Dumfries and Galloway teenagers to work with top creative company to learn the secrets of costume creation

Musicians taking part in a spectacular theatre dance performance this weekend will be dressed in costumes designed by four high school pupils.

Hazel Fairley-Keast, 16, Kirsten Bleasdale, 17, Fern Strang 17 and Mary Griffin, 16, from Dumfries and Galloway have been working with the highly renowned Oceanallover, from Moniaive, to help create the costumes for a large-scale production called Orographic.

As well as design skills the young women have learned a host of practical techniques, under the guidance of by Alex Rigg, and have each handmade the jackets – or upper body sections – of costumes.

The fruits of their labours will be on show on 2 September during an afternoon of events for Doors Open Day at Mill on the Fleet at Gatehouse of Fleet.

These will include a partial performance of Orographic as part of a guided walk up the nearby Trusty’s Hill and a full performance of the piece around the mill in the late afternoon.

Mary, whose own design is inspired by birds of prey, said: “It’s going to be really cool seeing our costumes being worn during a performance. We have learned so much from Alex about how to come up with designs and then how to turn them into real costumes.

“It’s taken me outside all my comfort zones, so I have learned new skills and ideas, which has been great. I’ll be taking all the skills I have learned back to school with me and using them for my Advanced Highers.”

The four young women have had the chance to work with Oceanallover thanks to the annual Modern Makers scheme run by Upland Arts Development CIC.

This aims to give young people from Dumfries and Galloway the chance to learn from leading figures in the area’s creative industries.

In this case they have been able to follow the process of costume design from start to finish.

Orographic is about human relationships with the environment. As part of the costume design process the four Modern Makers learned about the current project to reintroduce golden eagles to the Southern Uplands, including paying a visit to their last nesting place in Dumfries and Galloway.

They have also learned how to make costumes using a broad mix of materials from thick vinyl to delicate woven lace. And when Orographic was performed as part of the inaugural multi-sports European Championships they were able to help get performers into costume and putting on their make-up.

All four young people are now considering futures in the creative sector.

Alex said: “Designing and creating costumes is a very complex process. We asked them to come up with ideas inspired by the natural world and turn those into costume designs – which is a huge leap.

“Then we asked them to learn all the practical skills they needed to turn designs on paper into real costumes to be worn as part of a large-scale live performance, which is another huge leap.  

“It’s a huge credit to them that they have been able to achieve all this – they’ve been great.”

Modern Makers is based on the idea that “the best way to become a skilled maker is to learn from one”.

Amy Marletta, Upland’s Projects Director, said: “It’s been really pleasing to watch this project progress and how Alex and the group of Modern Makers have worked together to develop design and hands-on skills.

“They have all really enjoyed being part of a team and learning about how a really high quality creative business works.

“It is particularly rewarding that they have been able to get insights about every stage in the process of costume making, and to have learned from a company that has a such a tremendous reputation for the quality of its work.”

Modern Makers 2018 is supported by The Holywood Trust and the William Grant Foundation.