Picasso inspired Costume and Bodypaint Royal Academy of Arts

On a dark, wet and blustery February evening in Central London, we gathered our paper sculptures, paints and brushes and headed towards a very special #RALates event to create a Picasso inspired paper and paint installation on artist’s model Tatiana as a live performance for the guests of the evening’s event.

Go back a few weeks, we received an email asking if we would like to create something for the Picasso RA Lates… of course we did. Tatiana and I work so well together, she poses throughout the painting and costume creation, guests watch the process, they love taking photos as the look develops.

I felt really inspired to make the accessories from paper. Picasso used all types of paper in his collages and sculptures. I felt that the paper should be old, it feels special and appeals to my feelings about recycling and reuse. Picasso didn’t like to waste paper, he would paint on the smallest of scraps of paper.

I sent the wish out to the universe (posted on facebook) for some old maps, it looked like nothing would come my way then the next day I received a text from a friend that manages a charity shop to say she had been donated a bag of old books that very morning, would I like them? Everything was falling into place. We kept some of the books and used the rest as materials.

It felt liberating to make something out of books that were unwanted. Some of the paper was very thick and some thin, some light colour and some darker, all with an aged sensory patina and of course, that lush lush smell of old books.

I played around with the papers and came up with a way of tearing the pages with a ruler in a certain shape then folding the pieces in a way to make the most angles and show the most edges to create cubism shapes, I was inspired by ‘Man with a Guitar’ by Picasso. The paper seemed to be in similar colours.

So, The headdress was created in my studio (shed) and I made the elements separately for the shoulders and skirt so it was easier to transport to Burlington House. I also thought it would be really interesting for people to view the costume being built – a live installation on a real person.

Tatiana stood on the platform and I laid out the paper sculptures on the table behind and we constructed this in the Slaughter Room. The skirt was made from lengths of folded paper and I stapled more paper from the books in angular strokes. We laughed and said that Picasso probably would have used a stapler for a similar purpose! The drifting audience gasped as they walked in to the room, and some helped themselves to the antique papers lying on the stage, a keepsake of their evening at The Royal Academy of Arts, which was an extremely lavish evening I have to say. If you can ever get to one, I would recommend it. All sorts of amazing artistic things going on…… I was honoured to be part of this wonderful evening!

You can see pictures of the event here Royal Academy RA Lates Picasso