Curated by Wayne Martin
17 December 2018 – 22 March 2019
The Library, AUB
The exhibition was realised from a lifelong interest in the genre of Gothic and the Macabre. Wayne was looking for a project that was both of interest and suitably challenging to the imaginations of Level 6 AUB Costume and Performance students.
The brief for Ghostly White was based on sixteen Gothic novels exploring characters who wore white and what the wearing of a white garment portrayed in Gothic Literature.
When choosing which novels to work from the students looked at dresses from a number of time periods, the earliest being 1545, based on Horace Walpole’s, The Castle of Otranto, reputed to be the first real Gothic novel to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and the wonderfully eccentric Miss Havisham.
Students were encouraged to use their skills in Primary and Secondary research, exploring cut and construction techniques from varied periods in history whilst keeping within the parameters of the overall aesthetic of the piece. The back story behind some of the dresses is intriguing, unsavoury and sometimes controversial. In Lord Byron’s poem Astarte, the writer touches upon his alleged incestuous relationship with his half sister Augusta Leigh, and in Jane Eyre, Bertha Mason addresses her lunacy and the dowry attained on the back of slavery; and persecution in the backwaters of early 19th Century New Orleans.
The dresses on display are primarily made from a selection of donated fabrics from a curtain shop in Westbourne, Bournemouth. To create depth, students were asked to embroider, applique and stitch into the fabrics creating 3D sections of highly decorative embellishment. The students were deliberately given the briefest of line drawings from which to work, giving the opportunity to have a creative input in the designs.
On completion of the dress fabric, AUB graduate Scott Hazell led a team of students in paint and dye techniques to paint into the dresses with tones of sepia and grey to add depth and heighten the “Gothic” look of the costumes