|  February 1, 2019

A Costumed Collaboration-Lorenzo Lotto at the National Gallery

Lorenzo Lotto at the National Gallery: A Costumed Collaboration between Wimbledon College of Arts, The National Gallery and The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts.


At Wimbledon, the BA Costume for Theatre and Screen offers students two very distinctive pathways in which to specialise: Costume Design and Costume Interpretation. Each pathway has a very different focus with students choosing to pursue either highly skilled methods of cut and construction in interpretation or conceptual and individual responses to text based projects in design. Both pathways, however, are reliant on the costumes they produce being based soundly in a response to characterisation and collaboration with the performer to breathe life into their work. When Laura Quinton from the National Gallery originally contacted me earlier in the year about a possible collaboration based around their upcoming Lorenzo Lotto exhibition, this presented the possibility of creating a new piece of theatre that would allow students from both pathways to respond to Lotto’s portraits in very different ways. As well as being highly detailed, rich in colour and an excellent source of reference for Renaissance dress, Lotto also provided very clear narratives within his work, including artefacts that evidence the character of the sitter within them. This meant that the Interpretation students could respond to the historical dress, detailing and silhouette within the pictures to create beautifully constructed and embellished realisations of the featured garments, whilst Design students could respond to the artefacts in the portraits to create dramatic and contemporary interpretations of the Renaissance themes. In addition to a variety of historical and historically referenced cut and construction methods, students were able to engage with, amongst other techniques, natural dyeing, digital print, leatherwork and screen-printing to realise the costumes. The project was further enhanced by discussions that had been developing over the course of the last year between myself and Aly Spiro, Head of Acting from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Between us we were able to structure the project so that WCA students were able to engage in the process of casting and fitting ALRA actors and attend rehearsals to develop a clear dialogue between designer, interpreter and actor to build an original, immersive piece of theatre that took place in the Exhibition spaces at the National Gallery on the evening of Friday December 7th. The event was extremely successful – more so than had been imagined – with sixteen costumes presented that exhibited a wide range of techniques, processes and methodologies in construction and innovation in the use of materials and fabrications. Gender and racial stereotypes were challenged within the casting and characterisation of the actors and the audiences were engaged through classical and contemporary text and song around a narrative developed from Lotto’s ‘The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine with Saints’. The project involved 64 students, four tutors, three technicians, staff from the National Gallery and was seen by over 900 visitors. Instagram Links: @bacostumefortheatreandscreen @alradrama @costume_interpretation_2019 @costumedesignwca2019 https://www.arts.ac.uk/subjects/performance-and-design-for-theatre-and-screen/undergraduate/ba-hons-costume=for-theatre-and-screen ‘This collaboration was a wonderful opportunity for the National Gallery. The costumes created by the Wimbledon College of Art students were beautifully designed and executed. They brought the paintings in the Lorenzo Lotto exhibition to life, complimented the costume and jewellery already in the exhibition and allowed visitors to engage with the paintings in a new way.’ Laura Quinton, Campaign Manager, The National Gallery