Design students create costumes for Birmingham 2022 Festival opening

Wondrous Stories

Talented Birmingham City University design students have created costumes for the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Institute of Fashion and Textiles

Birmingham City University

Alongside London-based Costume Designer Sophie Donaldson, second and third-year Fashion and Textiles students at BCU have produced 22 aerial costumes and 300 costumes for Wondrous Stories- a free spectacular outdoor show which marks the opening of the six-month celebration of culture that will surround the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Created by Leamington-based dance company Motionhouse, Wondrous Stories premiered last night (March 17) and continues until 20 March in Birmingham City Centre’s Centenary Square with two performances each evening at 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

The production features 322 costumes, 22 aerialists, one crane, one globe, two zip wires, a giant book and a strong community cast of more than 250 people, including 16 dance groups

Senior Lecturer Louise Chapman, said: 

Final-year BCU Fashion Design student Jack Slater, who has been involved in the project, said:

“It’s been a huge honour. The director, Kevin Finnan MBE, pitched his ideas, but he wanted us to add our own creativity. We sat down as a team and everyone had different ideas, but we wanted to make all the different costumes look cohesive.

“I wanted to do characters that were based on Birmingham. I’m Brummie born and bred, so I knew I had to represent Birmingham. I really wanted to build in elements of graffiti art. I’ve always been sort of mesmerized by it, it’s so vibrant and unusual.

“I’m so proud to be doing something for the Birmingham 2022 Festival. At the start of this project, I was nervous as I’d never done such a big production, but as the module progressed, I’ve felt more and more honoured and proud to be part of it. This is for Birmingham.”

Second-year BCU student Teresa Mayes added:

“It’s been such a surprise and so invaluable to work on this project. It’s provided such insight into working in the industry and has given me so many skills. It’s amazing to think our costumes could be seen by up to hundreds of thousands of people. I’m so proud and immensely excited. I never thought something I did would go worldwide.

“I’ve been on site every day this week. I wanted to get every experience I could. I’ve been involved in dressing and doing the laundry, getting the costumes ready – I’ve loved it.”

Kevin Finnan, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Motionhouse, and creator and director of Wondrous Stories, said: “I'm over the moon with the costumes. The students have responded to the brief brilliantly and the result is exceptional.”

Wondrous Stories collected stories from West Midland residents to form a snapshot of life in the region. People from across the Midlands were able to submit their personal stories to the Wondrous Stories postbox at the Library of Birmingham.

Wondrous Stories features Motionhouse’s internationally-renowned professional dance-circus company alongside a mass cast of hundreds from Critical Mass dance and movement project, inclusive wheelchair dance group Freewheelin, Motionhouse Youth, Motionhouse community class participants, Timmins Academy and the Centre of Advanced Training programme run by DanceXchange and Sampad. Audiences can expect large-scale immersive action and plenty of thrills as stories, a giant book and characters tumble out of the night sky.

The event will also be live streamed tonight (18 March) on the Motionhouse Youtube channel.

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