BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design collaborate on Inside Out Dorset Performance Festival.

The festival saw a range of inspiring and uplifting performances and installations on the subject of climate change and the natural environment. Multi-disciplinary company Arbonauts presented Soaring Sky, a site-specific performance in the sand dunes (Whitepits) of Hengistbury Head.

It featured a group of community singers forming a ‘corridor’ of sound that the audience walk through at a slow pace experiencing a harmonic bath of sounds mirroring the ‘call and response’ of bird calls.

The visual impact created by the choir’s sporadic placement donned in bright yellow costumes was a collaboration between the company and a group of 2nd year BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design students at Arts University Bournemouth.

Through the summer term of 2016 Helen Galliano and Dimitri Launder, co-founders of Arbonauts, visited AUB to collaborate with the students. A group of students worked on prototyping costumes for the choir to wear in response to a creative brief set by the company. Students were able to explore their ideas on-site at Hengistbury Head, as well as through practical 3D draping sessions and formal presentations.

Coordinated by Senior Lecturer Adele Keeley, the project saw creative exploration by both the company and the students.

Adele said: “It is projects like these that truly enhance the student experience. Arbonauts have been a fantastic company to collaborate with. They have challenged the students in new ways. They embraced the creative journey together and been very open to the innovative ideas presented to them.” 

At the conclusion of the project, the students presented their work for final selection. This was done through a formal presentation followed by an on-site viewing of the garments.

Pip Atkin’s design influenced by the cylindrical image of a sonic boom fused together with a golden yellow colour pallet was selected by the company to be made for the performance.

Helen Galliano said, “The process has been a learning process for us as well as the students and we are very proud of the way they have all risen to the challenge and created work of a highly professional standard.”

Though only one student’s work was selected for the performance, Helen and Dimitri’s enthusiasm for all their creative ideas and the inclusiveness into the process continued to drive their passion for the project.

The rest of the students expressed their keenness to continue to be involved. The summer saw a flurry of excitement, hard work and determination as the garments were cut, constructed, sprayed and hemmed before the first performance at Hengistbury Head on September 22nd.

Students became members of the choir or volunteered as production assistants, guiding the audience through the entrance pathway. Pip was able to see her design realised and the visual impact was impressive.

The piece was experienced and enjoyed by large numbers of visitors to the festival who enjoyed this voice-created tunnel of bird-song, stripping them of their daily routine and inviting renewed exploration of the landscape and its native birds.

The visual impact was picked up by The Times who featured the image of the chorus and Pip’s costume designs image on Friday 23rd September.

Pip said: “Working with Arbonauts an been an invaluable, I have been able to work in a professional environment with the support of my tutors which has prepared me for the work I will be doing in the future. It has been so exciting to go through the whole design process and then be involved with the production of The Soaring Sky. It is an experience I am so grateful for and I have learnt so much! ”