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Katie Heape — Staying Creative in an uncertain world


  • Student Journal
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  • Performance Design and Film Costume


Staying Creative in an uncertain world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past year, it’s that creativity is key for finding purpose and joy. It’s a language that is universal, a path that is open to all. It flows through us and brings out the best in us. As we’ve seen over these past few months, creative projects make space for us to come together, whether that be making scrubs for the NHS or sewing masks for friends and family. Staying creative over lockdown gave me a great sense of purpose - one project in particular.

In the weeks before lockdown, I had started a new project in my last term of first year at AUB, making an 1890s woman’s bicycle outfit. The costume consisted of a long bicycle skirt, a blouse and Dolman cape and the design was given to us blank, with no colour or fabric suggestions. As a lover of history and women’s fashion, this project sparked great excitement for me. I loved the creative independence of choosing colour schemes, selecting fabrics that were authentic to the period, and drafting patterns from scratch. Then before we knew it, the world seemed to be turning upside down, and we had to return home.

To start with, I thought how can I make this whole costume on my own? With the world in such a state, naturally my mind became less focused - as I’m sure was the case for most. But after giving myself time to process the world around me, I felt that spark again, and sat at my sewing machine every day with excitement. And slowly but surely, the costume started to come together. That’s something I’ve learnt over these past few months, that while you should absolutely stay tuned into the current state of the world, you must also focus and make time for yourself. I found that if things didn’t seem to be moving right away, I allowed myself to slow down and regain perspective.

My initial worry of feeling incapable of making a costume on my own quickly vanished. My tutors made sure I had all the resources I needed to feel confident in what I was doing. This reassurance allowed me to push myself further, experimenting with different pleats and trims from the time period, to add my own personality and creative flair to the costume.

This project also showed me how creativity brings people together. As we could no longer fit costumes to our peers, I decided my sister would make the perfect model. Though she would occasionally dread fitting sessions - out of fear that I might accidently scratch her with a dress pin! - I saw her excitement as I finished each garment, and the final costume was completed. We researched hair and makeup from the 1890s together and reconstructed the quintessential look, a bright complexation with hair tied up in a Newport knot, ready for the photoshoot.

The journey of making this costume taught me so much about the importance of keeping creative, especially in our current climate. No matter how big or small, there is no better feeling than finishing a project, stepping back, and looking at the final result in the midst of an uncertain world.

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