Elly Morris, UK
Photographer: John Morris
I took inspiration from ornate Russian wooden houses and the carved filigree decorations on gables, windows and roofs and by the painted houses in the Polish village of Zalipie. I was inspired by people using what they have to make beautiful places to live. Of people not afraid to really make their mark and put a bit of their heart and soul into places that are important to them. I feel this is something lost to the modern world, small acts of devotion,no matter how humble the dwelling.
I wanted my costume to look like painted panels with carvings. I have been wanting to make a costume using a collage approach with inspiration from Mark Hearld and Eric Carle and the brilliant Mary Delany, who paint paper and build up texture and colour by ripping and sticking and this was a great opportunity.
Everything in my costume has come from my stash; nothing was new. I made it using what was available, in the spirit of the architecture the design came from. I also thought about the architecture of our bodies and the wonderful shapes we all have. I took the beautiful shape of a gable to create the shape of my trousers. It echos the shape of my hips, so i just exaggerated it.
I took apart an old costume and used the fabric from this. It was a beautiful turquoise linen. To tone the colour down and create the painted panel effect i used an indigo Dylon dye and built up layers of colour. I used the corset pattern i made at college years ago, because I knew it would work and i knew how to construct it. I used the articles from Foundations Revealed to make sure I got it as smooth as possible and pre-bent the steel to achieve better bust curve.
I added boning to the side seams of the trousers, having sewn the stars into the seams. It was very fiddly but it looks fun and was worth the trouble. I also pad stitched some canvas to the front and sides of the trousers to add some body and help them keep their shape. I made a stencil using one of the shapes from the filigree carvings and painted the gold shapes onto the trousers. I used different strengths of pink and red dye to paint linen. I then made stencils and built up shapes to make the flower appliques. I used Bondaweb to attach them to the costume. I added extra detail with some embroidery.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I almost didn't enter the competition this year. I felt I wouldn't be good enough and should wait until next year. About a month before Christmas inspiration struck and I decided to take a leap. I decided to start with what I know (hence using my corset pattern from collage). It's not sophisticated but for me it represents a really important beginning. It's allowed me to free my mind and explore the things that really make me tick and begin to develop a style that i can build on. I wanted to add a big headdress but ran out of time!!! But I feel really proud of what I've achieved. I would say to anyone on the fence to just go for it. Allow yourself time to play, time to explore but most importantly allow yourself to begin.