DESIGN FOR LIVING COSTUME – THE HUMAN LANDSCAPE
This costume represents my perspective on the regeneration debate in Tendring; it is a response to the thoughts and opinions we have gathered throughout the duration of the Design for Living project in this area.
Constructed from existing materials, the costume takes on an ‘Upcycling’ role. The creation of something beautiful and functional from existing materials is a concept which can directly apply to the area of Tendring. From the beginning, the natural landscape has been the strongest positive element of the area – the sea, sand and inspiring views. As we progressed through the project and worked with more people within the community, the strength and spirit of the human landscape [local people] has stood out as a strong positive characteristic of the community. A common perception of some areas of Tendring is that it is a lost cause: run-down, rubbish, beyond help... In truth, the local area is anything but this. When people open their eyes to what really exists here they will see hard-workers; motivated locals who create opportunities for young people; a caring and considerate neighbourhood who look after the elderly; people who are passionate about their local environment and issues which affect their community; individuals gifted with talents in music, singing, writing and visual creativity; and a fiery community spirit whose flames cannot be extinguished. In short, the community has many valuable gems which, if nurtured, can create something fantastic and vibrant. There is no need to re-create Tendring: it is all about re-discovering and ‘Upcycling’ what already exists and making it shine again.
From Head to Toe:
· Hot Pink [top, skirt, buttons] – strong fiery community spirit. This has been undermined throughout the years through negative press and public image but it still remains strong despite this. Members of the community continue to work hard in creating opportunities for young people, a safe environment for residents and an inviting area for visitors.
· Blue [appliqué fabrics, buttons, sleeves] – Blue is a colour of peace and calm – the area used to be a popular holiday destination where families would come to relax. There is a strong desire to return to this era. Also reference to the sea and sky, natural landscape.
· Green [appliqué fabrics, bin bags, buttons, sleeves] – Green is the colour of change; moving forward and taking steps towards a more positive future. The green changes from a lighter shade at the bottom (skirt) to dark at the top (button) as reference to a stronger motivation and directional changes (moving upwards). Also a reference to the natural landscape.
· Orange [top, appliqué fabrics, buttons] – Warm, positive and friendly – a reflection of the people we worked with. Also a reference to my personal Indian background and orange as a holy, spiritual colour.
· Black [skirt, sleeves] – strong, bold and making a statement. Represents black ink – expressing opinions in pen and the validity and importance of each opinion of local community members.
· Circles [buttons, beads, butterfly pins, bottle tops] – represent many elements of the community including Jaywick Martello Tower who have been a great support throughout this project. Also represents community spirit; the strongest characteristic of the human landscape. Bringing things round full circle – represents the desire for the future to be a reflection of the historic nature of the area (as a holiday destination and its part in historic battles).
· Triangles [buttons, top, tapered edges of the skirt] – directional, moving up and being positive. The three sides of the triangle represent the three tenses and phases of time: Past, Present and Future. In planning for a stable and successful future, we must learn from the past and look and the needs of the present.
· Rectangles [fabric appliqué] – represent the stability and foundations; these are important to development and can be found in existing structures both within the natural landscape and within community members. The rectangular shapes also refer to the issue of housing which has shown up as a large area of discussion and debate within the Tendring area.
· Plastic bags – refer to problems with rubbish, fly-tipping. Also a reference to the misrepresentation of the area as having no value and being a disposable part of society. The project has given people the opportunity to challenge that perception and realise that what may at first-glance be worthless, is at second-glance a vital part of a community. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.
· Fabric – textiles, a personal response – especially sari-like draping at the back. Fabric is also a reference to luxury and the fact that there are divides within the community between those who can afford luxuries and those who cannot. The gold belt reflects the importance of a strong infrastructure in building up the community and attracting tourism again. This is the ‘golden road’ to success as expressed by many community members.
· Buttons – represent bringing things together; existing community members and new visitors. Also refers to the Pearly King and Queen, and a need to build the link between some areas of Tendring and ‘everyone else’ in the surrounding towns and villages. Some community members have expressed feeling isolated; a sense which is exaggerated by the shoreline which contributes to feeling ‘at the end of the world’.
· Tattoo sleeves – challenging perceptions and celebrating creativity. These are the arms of change. Opinions written on the arms: initiate activity and positive change.
· Bottle tops – a reference to local issues with drinking and anti-social behaviour. This is an issue which the majority of the community dislike, and is a habit for the minority. The bottle tops have been turned into bangles which are important part of Indian dance costume.
· Butterfly pins – gold, beautiful, practical. A reference to money and the lack of funding or appropriate funding. Money (gold) seems to be the key to change although community spirit is there.
· Staples – imitating stitching and holding things together. Staples are commonly used for paperwork – reference to long process for change to occur due to legislation and paperwork.
· Stitching – visible stitching on the shoulders represents the need for people to take responsibility and initiate change