On Costume

I never thought at the beginning of this project that I might need to consider the clothes that I wore. I was wrong

When Doggerland went from being an experiment to a work performed for Secret Strangelove, and the theme in this body of work of creating objects activated by their being used by a human – it became really important. The work is in part located in the body, the form of the objects I’m making are designed around, formed to, and made to hold a human body. Its that relationship between the two forms that lends the work a lot of its depth – if it has any.


Above is a video still from the documentation of my performance of Doggerland. You can catch a glimpse of the bright red lifejacket that I wore beneath a simple black poncho. The lifejacket was required for safety, but having it visible to the audience would work havoc with the aesthetic and message of the piece. What was required was a sense of timelessness with the costume. It needed to not be prominent and not tie the visual of the work to any particular time. A uniform of ‘performance art black’ went some way to achieving this. The poncho served to hide the lines of the bulky lifejacket but also had a side-effect of softening the lines of diliniation between the edge of the boat and myself as the occupant.

A sketchbook work Concrete Boat (after Bob Smith) also had some costuming. The pedagogic, casual, vlog style production meant that I was able to dress casually and wear what I would normally wear.


But when it came to ‘launching’ the boat I wore a t-shirt with the text Fake Boat Builder written across the chest. This allowed me to push the themes of making and being intentionally absurd in a manner that suited the presentation method of that work.

Today I’ll be filming some footage for my next boat. This work lies somewhere between the two previous approaches mentioned in this post. It picks up themes from Doggerland in the way it reaches back to ancient stories and histories of the human relationship to boats – as far back as the bronze age and even back to the mesolythic. But its also a work that is consciously DIY, and meant to be in this place at this time. It doesn’t matter if it looks like it was made today. My costuming therefore needs to lay somewhere in the middle. It needs to not be distracting, but it can be casual and contemporary. In a sense the costume for today’s boat is no costume.

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