Biography

 

Early History

Abigail’s involvement in theatre began with Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle at age six, followed by a teenage surrounded by the alternative West Country festivals teaming with the likes of Forkbeard Fantasy and Footsbarn Theatre Company.


Her dance background included the experimental dance at Dartington College of Art in the 1970’s and she had designed and produced costumes for 3 youth productions before leaving school. Abigail went on to study Dance Theatre at the Laban Centre, London, where she specialised in Costume Design.       



Professional History

For the past 20 years she has been a freelance designer and lecturer and also has her own production company Mele of London. Always pursuing entrepreneurial activities, this began as a fashion enterprise, creating up-market, trendy maternity clothes in the early 1990’s, selling in Harrods and on the Fulham Road. The umbrella of Mele now covers all her activities which included creating the ‘enormous penis’ for Simon Vincenzi’s show The Man with the... at the Young Vic. 


Abigail has designed and realised costumes for over 100 choreographic works with choreographers including Richard Alston, Lea Anderson, Matthew Bourne, Mark Baldwin, Emlyn Claid, Aletta Collins, Shobanah Jeyasing, Rosemary Lee, William Louther, Jacob Marley, Wayne McGregor, Henri Oguike, Ashley Page, Sheron Wrey. She was the resident designer for the National Youth Dance Company for 13 years and for Union Dance for 3 seasons.


Her theatre work includes costumes for The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien produced by VFP Ltd. which toured for three years and ran twice in London’s West End. Abigail was nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship Award in 2004.


For six years she was resident designer at Tavaziva Dance. Zimbabwean choreographer Bawren Tavaziva,  was finalist for the first Place Prize for Choreography in 2004 with Umdlalo Kasisi.


Abigail has lectured at various Higher Education institutes in London including The Royal Academy of Dance, London College of Fashion, Laban, Croydon College and Wimbledon School of Art. Her commitment to education includes community projects with the National Theatre Education Unit, English Heritage, English National Ballet and the Barbican Centre, London. Most recently she was the Lead Costume Artist for an ambitious project with the Victoria and Albert Museum and East Potential in Stratford called Blue Train as it was inspired by the 2010 Diaghilev and the Golden Age of Ballet Russes Exhibition.



SBTD

Abigail is a member of the Society of British Theatre Designers and has contributed to the past three quadrennial National Exhibitions. A feature of each of these exhibits has been a video documentary of the design process covering both the collaborative and technical aspects of costume design.


The designs for The Hobbit were part of the 2D>3D Exhibition 2002-5 and this exhibit was selected to be part of the UK contribution at the World Stage Design Exhibition in Toronto in 2005.


Her work with Tavaziva Dance was presented as part of the Collaborators exhibition at the V&A Museum in London from November 2007.


This year the Transformation and Revelation exhibition was hosted by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff during March and April (2011) and she showed designs for 7734 by Jasmin Vardimon Company.



Now

Over the summer of 2010 designs were created for Jasmin Vardimon’s 7734, with its challenging set of hundreds of cast of clothes and Desert Crossings, choreographed by South African Gregory Maqomo for State of Emergency. The initial proposal for this cross continent project was short listed for Cultural Olympiad funding.


Abigail is currently Acting Pathway Leader in Costume Design at Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. Joining the faculty at WCA has initiated a growing interest and commitment to Research.


She will be documenting the design process of two new works being made at Rambert Dance Company, Seven Secrets Never to be Told and What Wild Ecstasy, which will contribute to the Rambert Archive.


In July 2011 she will be attending the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa to interview dance artists about their experience of the relationship between costume design and multi-lingual contemporary dance vocabulary.


The Dance UK website is to host regular articles about her research.



Research

Research interests are focused on costume in contemporary dance.


2006


2006



2007




2008



2009


2010





2010

 

Photo: Chris Nash

OISTAT Costume Working Group, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Costume Symposium held at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth.

Paper: Shapes in Space - dance costumes and their stories.


Society of British Theatre Designers Student Conference as part of

Collaborators Exhibition.

Paper: Shapes in Space - dance costume and the role of the designer.


V&A Museum, London Agendas    

Presentation: Collaborating with movement – Skin as a design decision.


Application for AHRC funding, Beyond Text.


Fashion and Costume Conference Endyesthai: To Dress hosted by the Hellenic

Costume Society in Athens, Greece.

Paper: Costume Design in Contemporary Dance – A Unique Approach to

Dressing the Body.


Costume Colloquium II Dress for Dance, Florence, Italy (Delegate).