Writing – working from the end, to the start and back again

My writing process has rarely changed and it’s quite usual for me to begin a piece, edit it over a longer period of time and then start writing the ending before going back to the start and re-working the title and the introduction.

Presently I’m working through a series of practical studies that explore learning experiences, the re-presentation of knowledge and ways to better understanding how learning occurs for different individuals.

Finding and reviewing spaces where multiple knowledges can co-exist and can be brought together effectively to develop and refine designs according to the individual needs and requirements of each project. And considering how this work could be placed back within a relevant context.

Responding to fabric

The design/making of a garment – figuring out the design through alterations

Design sketch

Tracing back designs

Looking at some of my writing on art and design I realise I have always focused on the dialogues concerning the documentation of performance and events – the representation of history through theatre and art.

In retrospect it makes sense that I moved from design to research. On one level some of the subjects I addressed may appear a little morbid – representations of Wuthering Heights through installation art – the artistic notations of Otto Dix – dance marathons and the relationship between dance and social/political events – historical applications and performances of the Commedia’Dell’Arte – clowning and mask work.

But on another they provide me with an insight that always feeds into my work as a designer/researcher and that enables me to create work that embodies that knowledge.


Ralph Koltai

When the image is so much. An inspiring creator/designer whose work demonstrated how important the process is. RIP.

Designing with elegant lines

The costume design process owes much to many different legacies – from fine artists and fashion designers to stage designers. Aubrey Beardsley’s work has always interested me, if not for the fine detailed work, for the complexity of work that went into shaping different bodies and garments. Without even realising it the references appear in the work…

Starting places

For a designer there will always need to be a place to begin – a point, aside from the text, that provides a visual idea from which to elaborate on the themes and the narrative.
Often this may be an historical reference from art or fashion and whilst this will not necessarily be an image that remains part of the main design process it can lead to new and different visual research pathways.

A piece of art at an exhibition, a photograph, an image from a book – each can provide a range of different information to inspire design ideas – from shape, style and silhouette to fabric references, hairstyles and accessories. From this perspective the costume designer develops a range of historical references, from art and fashion to architecture and graphics.

This first image may become less or more relevant during the design process, but it’s important to keep each image for reference at a later stage – whether that’s to communicate an idea to the cast and director or to clarify or develop an element within the design process. It may be easier to photograph and digitally store this process – creating a map from which to chart the different key moments in the design process.

This may also assist in the development of additional design elements such as light, sound, set and movement and can provide a connecting point between different areas within the design process.

For instance a Klimt drawing may lead to the development of a particular style and shape of a dress or the choice of a certain type of fabric that echoes the physical qualities rendered by the artist. A photograph of a building or an open space may lead to the choice of a particular colour palette or a range of textures that assists with the development of a costume and how that costume moves. This in turn can assist with the development of character and/or the interpretation of the original text.

'There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words.' - Doris Humphrey.