Cabinet of Curiosity are textile/costume artist Caroline Collinge & architect Edmond Salter.
They work with paper materials & techniques to make exhibitions, installations & participatory arts activities for commissions with heritage sites, arts organisations, museums & the community.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Museumaker pitch.

At the moment I'm having a lot of fun creating objects out of paper using stencil and origami techniques for a stop frame animation. This is for a pitch in January for the museumaker scheme. I hope it is successful - it's rare to get an opportunity to create beautifully crafted objects for performance in addition to working in such a beautiful setting. The outcome will be based upon Orleans House gallery, Strawberry Hill, Ham House and other historical sites, working with two collaborators, Jan and Simon. The thing we all share is a richness of response. The three of us have our core skills (designing/making, direction and sound) but we also have many additional skills, that sometimes makes it hard to easily categorise what it is that we exactly do. This is very useful when working on a project at this scale as we have more freedom to pursue our ideas without being so easily restricted by a small budget. But I have sometimes had problems with the range of my skills as it is sometimes hard to 'market' myself to people and find projects that will stretch my imagination to full potential.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Scratch UK Screening

'Scratch' is due to be screened at the Cine Lumiere cinema, South Kensington on 10th November. It will be a public screening and tickets are available from the box office 0207 0731350.
The screening will be followed by a Q & A session with the director, Jakob Rorvik, and lead actors Viktoria Winge and Luke Treadaway.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Poodle suits

I've been asked to submit a proposal for a scheme called Museumakers which enables 'makers' to partner museums and create a project based upon their collection. I'm applying to Orleans Gallery, in partnership with a director, to jointly create a performance and installation that will also incorporate the River Thames, Strawberry Hill and Ham House. I found this photograph of a previous owner of Orleans House with her pet poodle. Apparently she used to spin its hair into cloth that was then cut into suits for her grandsons to wear.

Monday, 7 September 2009


It's been a long wait, but 'Scratch', a film I worked on last year is due to be released. I'm looking forward to seeing it as a lot of thought went into the design, the script was very good and the performances strong. I hope it does well. It's unfortunate that there doesn't seem to be a lot of outlets for 'art house' short films of this nature.
I've found that I collaborate best with European and international directors as they tend to have a strong visual aesthetic. Most English directors have a tendancy to concentrate on the text and prefer gritty realism. Nothing wrong with that, except it doesn't suit my style of work. I like to make the design and characters believeable and truthful within a heightened sense of reality and create another world.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Studio

I have a get in at the theatre this week, so my studio shop space will be emptied. But not for long as I will be developing my origami work for another project. The picture shows some items for the show (I am the shadowy figure in the background). It was taken by Adrian Downie, who also helped with the design of my website.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Infinite Variety

Just completing work on a project for The Whoopee Club which has involved the re-invention of a variety show as a stylish operatic cabaret. It is also partially a re-invention of The Whoopee Club, who wish to diversify and try out new ways of working. I don't know how the audience will respond to this work, especially their regulars. Most people who have seen the designs have found them to be very unusual and not what they expected.
At times I wish that I wasn't so ambitious as my designs take a great deal of technical planning to realise. But the end results are usually beautiful and stand the test of time, which makes the hard work worth it.
My temporary studio is in Brixton market and it has been a welcome contrast to working from home, which can sometimes make me feel isolated. It has been positive to have my work on display and talk to people about the show and what I do. I'm considering keeping the studio for longer and making it a second home.

Postscript 2011
The project with the Whoopee Club did not go well. I had to involve my trade union BECTU. I was not fully paid for the job and my contract was broken.
The Whoopee Club received numerous grants, but it seemed that the company was in financial difficulties. These complications severely impacted upon the design input. The worst aspect of this job was seeing the lack of respect paid to designers and others involved in the project.
From my own viewpoint despite signing a contract:  I was not fully paid; I did not receive the budget on time; I have never been fully credited for my role (this has proved to be a blessing in some ways); I had an assistant, Scarlet Nite (who was not chosen by me, but by the Whoopee Club) crediting the designs to herself but who did not truely assist me...I could continue.
This was an example of how not to run a production.Despite this, the Clore Leadership Fund forwarded Lara Clifton to the Arts Council as someone to support. I had a meeting with one of the leaders of the Clore Leadership Fund and put forward my case. I was told to forget about it, that a lot of theatre companies operate like this...

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Three projects

I decided a diary of my experience and influences when creating work could be a useful way of charting my journey.
At the moment I am working on three projects simultaneously and about to start a fourth. It is an exhausting yet exhilarating experience as it lets my imagination run riot.
My favourite project is one that is based upon Helen of Troy: 'A Thing of Beauty'. This project encapsulates all of my interests in one piece of work: text, visuals, film, collage, soundscape.
I was invited onto this project by a very talented director/writer who shares a similar process to work. Communication between us has been very fluid and free. It helps that he has a strong visual sensibility and thinks in a unique way. Hopefully this is a relationship that will develop further as creating work with him is the closest I have had to an equal partnership.
In addition I am undertaking a training course in journalism (multi-media) at the BBC. Perhaps this seems an unusual undertaking for a designer to pursue, but I had originally wanted to study English and had considered journalism as a career option. I was also involved in the Royal Court Young Writers Group whilst studying design. This led my work in a whole new direction of 'writing through design', that challenges people's perceptions of a designer. I now want to bring text back into my work and undertake more writing, so the BBC course has been extremely helpful in re-igniting this initial love affair, especially for structuring and editing text.
My third project is for The Whoopee Club who have been very generous in allowing me full creative expression. I am unusual in being an outsider to this project and it can feel like I have been granted entry to a members-only club. This is sometimes difficult, especially as I am establishing relationships with people who already know and work regularly with each other. All that I can do is be honest and true, both to myself and those around me.
The fourth project is due to start in a fortnight and involves some initial filming of paper costumes and props for a festival in Italy this Novemeber. It follows on from a piece of work shown at Shunt in April with digital artists SDNA and a group of colaborators involved in sound and movement/performance. I had created origami paper costumes, which worked very well in conjuction with SDNA's insect projections and live performance. SDNA and myself share similar design influences and give each other room to express our creativity within a collective situation. Consequently, I feel that I produce my best work when working with them.