Costumotions is an art project using costume as a medium for emotional expression, which I started to develop 2014.
In Costumotions I work with people on one to one basis over a period of nine months during which we look for emotional sensations in the body,
draw them on paper, turn all the drawings into a costume design and then I execute it into a wearable costume sculpture.
The aim of the project is to raise awareness over our emotions and how important it is for us to acknowledge and express them in order to maintain a healthy body and mind.
During 2017-2018 I had four male participants and one female taking part in Costumotions. Four costumes were made, and below you can see images of the design process, how the drawings were then fashioned into physical creations and eventually into full costumes.
All of the images were created by the participants either by drawing or painting after each session. A lot of images were produced, but I am displaying here only few of them. The participants chose all of the materials used in the costumes and followed closely the construction process so that the costumes created would be accurate to their experiences of their emotional experiences.
At the end of the project the participants wore their emotional costumes, and they have then been exhibited at Central Saint Martins MA Art and Science Degree Show 2018 London, Thought Fest 2018 at Regent’s place London, ‘Now It’s Here’ exhibition in South Bermondsey London 2018 and at ‘Nou Wave I’ exhibition at The Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey, London 2019.
At the moment Costumotions is not running, however, I’m looking forward to start it again in the future. I am currently working on Costumotions’ ‘little sister’ project called Emotiknots. It is a mindfulness-based art workshop where we look for emotions and their forms through a body-scan. Instead of turning these findings into costumes, the participants are encouraged to embody the found emotional sensations through their chosen artistic medium.
Image no. 2 represents sensations felt in the stomach. The participant described these feelings as generally positive, warm and contained. He was imagining fleshy walls and soft textures, for which he chose velvety fabrics and different shades of red and orange (image 3).
Image no. 4 represents sensations felt in the upper back and between shoulder blades. The participant described these feelings as negative, obstructive and unfamiliar. He was imagining reddish colours, black, and a lot of knots (image 5).
In the final design all the images that had been created during the design process were put together and fitted into their right place on the body.
The participant was experiencing his whole body as turning into sea-green colour when he was feeling good and relaxed. A place where he felt safe was found in his hands and colours of sea green and purple emerged. The stomach area was felt as a positive area as well, and it formed as if a huge hall that felt containing.
On his collar bones he felt tightness which was felt on his shoulders and in his idle back as well. These sensations were turned into stone-like material. Between his shoulder blades he felt a singular knot, and surrounding it different kinds of knots holding the shoulders and upper back tight.
There is ivy going around the body which was also an experience of negativity taking over the body and restricting movement.
Image no. 9 represents sensations felt in different parts of the body. The first drawing from the left on the top was a feeling of general wellbeing. He described this feeling as if there was light coming from inside of him, that had fragments of the underlying stress, and that the cage represented ‘holding it all together’. The image on the right top was about stress and how it took over his body as this blue colour. The first image on left on the bottom was feelings of sadness and worry, which took the colour of black, red and blue. The second image on the bottom was also worry and sadness. The image in the middle of the paper represented how he was feeling when he was fully energised and happy. The image on the right on the bottom was the latest addition, and it came about when he was feeling fully relaxed. He felt as if his whole body turned into comforting tree bark.
(Image 10, The tree bark) (Image 11, The yellow glowing light) (Image 12, The different layers of sensations – in the middle the glowing light, then a layer of sadness and worry, then stress and on top of that feelings of general wellbeing.)
As described above, my participant was feeling his emotional sensations in different layers, and we decided to represent them on top of each other. There is a fusion of all these layers erupting upwards around the throat, this representing the release of these different emotions. In the back there is almost as if an ice sculpture, and that is how he felt his stress was manifesting itself in his upper back.
Image no. 16 represents sensations felt in the Head and the persons hands. He described these feelings as restlessness, frustration, anger, anxiety and self-doubt. He described this as something that cannot unravel, all likes are going to different directions, there’s confusion, the thoughts are tangled, it’s like a messed up cassette tape that you just have to throw away because it’s unfixable – one is not bothered about sorting the mess out. He also said it described the mess as uncomfortable, tightly interwoven but all the same beautiful from the outside.
Image no. 18 This image represents comfort, anger and anxiety. The participant said that he had had problems with his stomach for a very long time. The image that came to him was a whirl of red colours with a little blue, purple and yellow in it. He said he felt his stomach being knotty when he is worried or anxious.
In the final design the body is all covered with yellow, blue and green lines on top of a skin tone base. These lines represent daily structure. There is also a red swirly line going around the body, which represents imagination, creativity and freedom. In the design the head and hands are covered with spikes and colours of red and black. The participant described these parts feeling sharp and knotty. The neck area is coloured in Red, orange and yellow, representing calmness, peace and positivity. The stomach area is covered with yellow comfort, but also purple-black-blue knotty worry and anxiety.
For this costume images weren’t produced along the process. The mental images were collected into this one image, which turned into the final design. The participant was experiencing anxiety, worry, ‘dirtyness’ and low self-esteem which represented itself in a bursting bubbles in front of her. These bubbles felt to her like something was growing from underneath her skin that was blocking her view so that she couldn’t see what was coming out. When she felt anxiety taking over she said she felt paralyzed, as if her hands dropped to the floor and she had no energy to move them. Her positive emotions were felt in her back and the back of her head in multicoloured different bursting forms.
In image no. 25 you can see these ‘skin’ bubbles being formed. The participant felt that her soul was in the middle of her chest and it was bright light blue. She said that every time she was sad this part of her lighted up and she could feel the blueness all the way up and down her chest. Next to the ‘soul’ is her tiny heart, which she felt was very vulnerable and attached to the soul.
In the image no. 26 you can see the positive bursting sensations in her back. She said it felt like her whole back and back of her head opened and a lot of colours were bursting out in different forms. The last image in this series is a black spiky growth in her left thumb. She said that when ever she feels hurt she has this extremely powerful nerve pain going down her left wrist and being the worst in her thumb.