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A person wearing a pollution-inspired dress on Bournemouth beach, blue, green and white with patterns and embroidery.

Beverley Baker – "Everyone should be able to elevate their creativity for others to see"

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  • Performance Design and Film Costume

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Truthfully, I struggled to decide on what I wanted to study at university, because although I knew I wanted to study something creative, I wasn’t sure exactly what my passion was. However, I knew AUB was the right choice when I went to an Open Day back in 2021 with my mum and auntie; I remember being mesmerised by the colourful buildings and welcoming atmosphere that was so incredibly different to any other university I’d ever seen.

Coming from studying a vocational art and design course at college, I had an existing interest in film, costume and performance/installation art, which has broadened into set and costume design for theatre as well as film. I eventually decided on BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume (PDFC) because it offered opportunities to develop in all my interests and encourages us to not put ourselves in a box. This has been perfect for me, as it has allowed me to explore literally as many new skills as I can before entering the industry.

I always start by compiling mood boards and mind maps to get down ideas and scribbling any random thoughts down – one word can trigger a storm of ideas! I then start researching, often primary, where I will photograph textures and shapes from places of inspiration and begin drawing. My sketches start as rough thumbnails and narrow down to final ones, annotated; I prefer working analogue in a physical sketchbook but recently, I’ve started using Photoshop because it’s so efficient. Sometimes I don’t create a final plan but just work from the ideas in my mind, because I like to be spontaneous and see how my idea develops in real life, though for more structurally complicated pieces, I will usually draw up a final plan that references scale.

I’ve gained many new skills at AUB such as technical sewing, modelmaking, costume breakdown, scenic painting, using Adobe Creative Suite and digital fabric printing. We get access to excellent facilities such as a dye room, heat press, industrial sewing machines, the Costume Store and AUB’s Studio Theatre.

PDFC has been great at preparing us for industry through organising live briefs to work to, including making "Mercreature" costumes for SISATA’s performance of Peter Pan and ensemble costumes for Saeflod at Inside Out Dorset. The course has encouraged me to try many different pathways, especially through student collaboration, which is how I got opportunities such as assistant costume designer on two student films, styling and constructing a headpiece for photoshoots, and exhibiting my art in several exhibitions.

Recently I won the Ocean Generation x AUB ‘Green Futures’ competition with my "Mercreature" costume! Alongside seven team members in the second project of second year, our group was asked by SISATA, the outdoor theatre company, to create a "Mercreature" costume each. Inspired by oil spills and the presence of microplastics in our seas, my costume takes the shape of the Veasta, a half-fish half-seahorse creature that is said to lurk off the coasts of Dorset. A visit to Portland influenced the textures and techniques I used, incorporating at least 15 techniques: free machine embroidery, hand embroidery, tie-dye, dip-dye, appliqué, reverse appliqué, trapunto, form-fixing, finger knitting, puff binder, foiling, batik, heat gun, eyeleting and painting.

This academic year I’ve also been involved with AUB’s student-led gallery, The BUG, which I’ve really enjoyed because developing student opportunities to showcase each other’s art is very important to me – everyone should be able to elevate their creativity for others to see. Outside my creative practice, I also play piano and work part-time as a lifeguard when I’m at home in Somerset – I think it's really important to get involved with as much as possible!

I’m still unsure what I want to pursue after graduation, but I do see myself as someone who carries on exploring multiple disciplines, as I’m so reluctant to put myself in a box. As well as the costume and set pathways taught by my course, I’m also interested in puppet-making for stop motion animation. However, I know for certain that I want to continue practicing as a fine artist alongside anything else.

Beverley's work can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn, Etsy for drawing prints and her website.

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