From dancer to costume maker: A Journey through the World of Theatre with Kingsley Hall
This week on the blog, we are introducing you to another one of our fantastic Hotel Elephant Members: Theatrical Costumier Kingsley Hall.
Kingsley started out his creative career as a contemporary ballet dancer, but with time he slowly fell in love with costume and the transformative power of dress up. This led to a self-guided exploration of the art of dressmaking and tailoring. Making is in his blood… his grandfather was a tailor and his grandmother and mother made all of his clothes when he was a small child growing up in Africa.
Kingsley is interested in slow fashion and circular fashion. He believes that finding our way back to to our connection with the clothing that we wear through making and intentionally slowing down the process will be an important part of our journey as we move into the next phase of our existence on this planet. We need to be aware of where the materials come from and how the product is made – strengthening our connection with the process as opposed to mindlessly consuming the end product. This has lead to another branch of his current journey as a fabricator of garments – hand weaving. Kingsley has trained as a hand weaver and weaves fabric on a loom out of natural and biodegradable fibers in the hopes that soon he will be able to close the loop and go from fibre to garment all with his own hands.
We met Kingsley in his studio at Hotel Elephant, Spare Street to find out more about his practice, his studio space and on being yourself.
What do you like the most about Hotel Elephant?
I moved into my studio at Hotel Elephant in the summer of 2017. I used to work at home but I needed more space. Also, I am a big fan of working alongside other creative as you can share ideas and inspire each other… often the best ideas come from chats over coffee!
My studio here has become a beautiful, quiet haven, which is important for me when working. I love focus and silence.
What does you working in your studio look like?
I cut my patterns on the table. Accuracy is key and I find the geometry fascinating and absorbing… taking a two-dimensional flat piece of fabric and creating a three-dimensional fabric sculpture that fits the body or even enhances or distorts it.
As a maker, designers want me to interpret and create their ideas in three-dimensional form. They send drawings, reference images and ideas for the fabric. It is then my job to interpret what they want – you build up a sort of language with the designers so that you have a shorthand for the texture, character and essence of an idea. The best makers are also artists, designers and great listeners – it’s about being sensitive to other people’s styles and the ideas they want to communicate. Fashion – the way we dress and present ourselves - is communication.
Moving into this studio and allowing my self the focus, time and most importantly the space to expand my practice has been invaluable. The sense of community here and the café next door has been a great backdrop to this ongoing journey and I think Hotel Elephant has huge amounts to offer anyone on a creative journey.
Do you think collaboration in important in your field?
I think that one’s work has much more potential when you collaborate. While I enjoy working alone, I find it essential to balance that with effective collaboration. Meeting people from different fields makes me think outside the box and consequently changes and improves my practice. This is especially important to me as I did not go to university but am self-taught. This means I want to create a lot of opportunities to experiment and acquire knowledge – to cross pollinate is to create variety and opportunities for expansion that working in isolation cannot provide.
Do you have any advice or tips?
Just learn. Make the most of all the resources you have available, the internet, libraries, adult education centres. There is just so much to learn. Just do it, just make something and don’t be afraid. It’s really important to keep making. Focus on what you’re doing: Follow what feels joyful and exciting to you and don’t be or try to be someone else – be yourself.
Find out more about Kingsley here: