“I have always had an interest in learning about materials. This interest evolved during the MFA where we were encouraged to explore new materials for costumes. During my masters I experimented with unconventional textiles and made a costume from plywood, veneer, cork and paper.”
“My graduation project was a dreamy science fiction visually inspired by abstract art. My work since has been at the opposite end of the spectrum, at times painfully practical.”
Renovating a Victorian property.
MFA Performance Costume
Edinburgh College of Art
“I studied performance costume and this is an extract from my graduation project Solar Opposites, this will help put the designs in context:
Solar Opposites is imagined as an interplanetary series of films in four parts, spanning 600 years.
This idea of exploring the future is both difficult and exciting. It is impossible to avoid restricting yourself, comparing everything to the present – what is likely to happen based on what we know today? Every new day is evidence that prediction is impossible, the reality is that the future will unfold as a series of random events. A form of chaos. A logical interpretation of the future is probably as far-fetched as a fairy tale. Nonetheless the illogical instinct to logically predict the future is more relatable. Ultimately this design project is intended for an audience, to communicate current issues and ideas. I have tried to reflect both the random and the logical in my designs.
Bearing in mind the chaos of the future, the visual aim of a large part of this project is inspired by abstract art. A suitable metaphor. Ambiguous shapes and colours are the blurry dreams of the future. They have a presence but explicitly leave room for interpretation. The abstract art may be formed through a series of random and almost mechanical movements. Each movement creates the foundation for the next – perhaps with some intention and partial control. Just like the future unfolds. The result can be imagined but never predicted.”
My graduation project was a dreamy science fiction visually inspired by abstract art. My work since has been at the opposite end of the spectrum, at times painfully practical.
Since graduation my focus has shifted nearly entirely to renovating a property. Apart from problem solving, the main creative aspect of this project has been interior design. I have always had a passion for architecture and interior design, in particular the Swedish arts and craft movement lead by Ellen Key and Carl and Karin Larsson. It has been fantastic to have the opportunity to explore this on a practical level. Although the project has involved designing and making, the creativity becomes somewhat diluted during such a large project. To balance this, I have wedged in small creative outlets occasionally making clothing, drawing and steam bending wood.”
Materials and Techniques
|“I have always had an interest in learning about materials. This interest evolved during the MFA where we were encouraged to explore new materials for costumes. During my masters I experimented with unconventional textiles and made a costume from plywood, veneer, cork and paper during my first year. For my graduation project, I returned to cork and wood whilst also exploring synthetic materials such as resin and silicone.|
My curiosity led me to spend a significant amount of time researching materials for the renovation project, often trying to navigate toxicity and sustainability of various materials. It was important for me to create an environment that was conducive to good health as well as long lasting. I tried to use ‘genuine’ materials that would withstand the test of time. As far as possible I have tried to ensure these are obtained responsibly with sustainability in mind.
Researching new and historical materials used in homes can be a minefield. As I have learned more about the everyday materials that surround us at home, so I have become aware of the myriad effects many have on our health and the environment.
For example, I was not aware that lead paint is often found in older homes. Despite its known dangers to health it was used legally late into the 20th century. Other learning points have included: VOC content in paint, formaldehyde in plywood and MDF, asbestos, flame retardants and PFAS. I had scratched the surface of this topic during my studies at Edinburgh College of Art as part of an Environmental Design module. As I have been doing much of the renovation myself, the personal exposure to materials with such toxic properties has been all the more stark.
On a practical level it has been both interesting and challenging to work with materials such as tiles, low VOC paint, plywood for a custom-built larder, structural timber, resilient bars and plasterboard for building a ceiling, various types of plaster such as Plaster of Paris for installing cornicing. The kitchen quartz worktop and solid wood units were sourced second hand.”
Awards, Exhibitions and News
|“The wooden dress I made in my first year of the MFA was shortlisted for the Batsford Prize 2020-21 in the Applied Arts and Textiles category.|
Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to do the costume design for a short film called Hello Muscles, made as a part of a campaign to raise awareness of young carers.
I made the steam bent ash lampshade during a one-day course with Charlie Whinney at his studio in the Lake District. “
Affects of Covid 19
“I graduated during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, which shaped the route I took after graduating. In 2019 my partner and I bought a run-down Victorian ground floor flat in Portobello, Edinburgh. The property was in dire need of renovation. Theatres were closed and many production trainee schemes were closed for new applicants, so rather than entering the industry I took this opportunity to work on the property. I committed to full-time property renovation including project management, design and labour.”
Slideshow of kitchen renovation
|Alongside renovating and costume Vanna is very skilled in many other creative disciplines, creating bespoke garments, drawings and paintings. You can view more of these on her website using the link below. |