Maisie Barlow

⋅ Costumier ⋅

Brambly Hedge Brambly Hedge CAD book

For my final 4th year project I knew immediately it would be Brambly hedge. A children’s story illustrated and written by Jill Barklem in 1980, it was an integral part of my childhood growing up in the countryside and I just loved it! It chronicles, in beautiful illustrative detail, the lives and adventures of a community of mice who live in Brambly hedge. Brambly hedge is in an idyllic spot where old values flourish, and self-sufficiency is the order of the day.

My production objectives for this production are for it be performed in Epping forest as this is where author Jill Barklem grew up and imagined her setting of Brambly Hedge. It is a special area of conservation and is well loved for its unspoilt and beautiful expanse of woodland. I designed the set and production of brambly hedge to be performed within the forest as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the books but also to raise awareness and funds for climate change and deforestation of land. I therefore designed all of the costumes to be made from natural, recycled and secondhand fabrics and embellishments as well as trying natural dyeing techniques and using locally and sustainably sourced fabrics.

For the choice of period and style, Jill Barklem created the mice of brambly hedge with quite an eraless look but after contacting the team at brambly hedge I discovered the main influence for these stories was the regency period. I love the silhouettes of this era and wanted to really call upon it in my designs. I kept the classic silhouettes of the era with exaggeration to shapes and styles such as high collars for the men and oversized bonnets for the women. In regard to the textiles for the fabrics they are highly textural fabrics and layering of different mediums. I incorporated the textures of nature such as the scaliness of tree bark, wispy grass and the plump berries of autumn.

Each character has their own motif and style within their costumes as they all have their own places and jobs within the hedge itself. They are all connected through their costumes with the use of exposed seams on the outer garments. The seams are then brushed to look like imitations of fur poking through.

When I created Lord Woodmouse from my designs I used all-natural fabrics and dyed the shirt and breeches with mixes of algae, coffee and tansy wood. I patchworked tweed from offcuts of fabric from tailors in Edinburgh and the rest was sourced sustainably from woollen mills in Yorkshire.

I created a costume that really brings alive the core values of Brambly Hedge with the reflection of nature in the costuming and the mouselike hints that make you believe he is a character from a story. Seeing as brambly hedge has never been made into a stage production, I would love to take this production forward one day and make in to a reality as all set design, production, costume design and costings have been completed.