godiva awakes

One of my current commissions is as the principal artist making the coat for Lady Godiva for the ‘Artist Taking The Lead’ project as part of the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012. I have completed my design and information about the surface and concept of the coat is detailed in this post. We have now also appointed 5 artists to assist in the realisation of the coat and will be working from November 2010 until January 2012.

Here is some information about the project by Imagineer Productions and my design.

The ‘Godiva Awakes’ project by Imagineer Productions will bring West Midlands icon Lady Godiva to life as a 10 metre high puppet that pushes the boundaries of carnival puppetry to new levels.

Built from aluminium and carbon fibre, she will be a moving, breathing monument – a potent symbol of equality, fair play and justice. Godiva will be dressed for her journey into the 21st century in a coat crafted by local artists and communities, chronicling the West Midlands’ industrial and engineering heritage.

A spectacular performance will mark the ‘awakening’ of Lady Godiva. Powered by 50 cyclists, she will join 2,000 dancers, actors, aerialists, musicians, pyrotechnicians and carnivalists in a processional performance. On the last day of Coventry’s Godiva Festival in July 2012, Godiva will leave the city and journey to London. She will seek sanctuary overnight at various towns along the route who will each welcome her in their own, distinct way. Finally she will arrive in London, her journey completed in time for the opening of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Coat
Designed as a double-breasted, fitted, embellished long coat with a train. The coat is trimmed with a collar, buttons, sash belt, pocket and cuffs. Colours will be predominantly golds, yellows, and reds, reflecting that as ‘Godiva’ journeys to London; she is like a beacon though the urban towns and country roads. The skirt section at the back of the coat has a hidden pleat that reveals a shock of red fuchsia as Godiva takes a step. There is a panelled train at the rear, which covers the length of the cyclopaedia.

General detail
After a period of research, which will investigate memories and testimonies from people living and working in the West Midlands region, 5 commissioned artists will create various aspects of the coat sections, within their own particular practice or craft area.

The concept for the detail on the outer facing fabric of the coat and train is the notion of ‘palimpsest’, where text and images are consistently overwritten through time thus building up layers of narrative. Work on the coat and train will be screen-printed, some areas faded and barely legible, others vibrant and clear.

The Train
The panels that make up the train will be like pages from a book. The ‘pages’ will not form one particular narrative but will reference the stories from people who worked in the many industries, long lost trades and found crafts in the West Midlands region.

These ‘pages’ will be created using hand and machine stitches, appliqué, cutwork and print. They will feature vintage and emerging technical instructions and industry symbols. The pages will be joined together using couch stitch. The couch stitch yarn will contain messages and secret aspirations from the young people who participate in the ‘Godiva Awakes’ project.

The coat, train and trim will be in part re-purposed donated fabrics, found industrial and domestic ephemera – adhering to the ethos behind an energy efficient and sustainable Olympic Games.

Inner lining
The coat lining will document the ‘Godiva Awakes’ project. It will contain image and text details of the many technical languages used throughout the creation and realisation of the project by the principal artists and engineers.

The collar will feature intricate filigree work made from fine twisted wire; found buttons, beads, and nuts and bolts. The buttons will be made out of paper, wood and leather– each button will have an individual design in relief. There will be 4 individual cufflinks featuring a design that represents the glass works, which was a major industry in the West Midlands region throughout the years.

If you would like to donate any sewing threads, buttons, ribbons etc please contact me mail@juliaoconnell.co.uk Thank you

Imagineer Productions
Artists Taking the Lead

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