NIDA students and staff enjoy a week-long series of BFA research project presentations

6 September 2017

Paper Costumes project presention

Photo: BFA (Design for Performance) students present their Paper Costume work to NIDA students and staff

Last week, NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts students from four non-performance disciplines showcased their findings from in-depth research projects during a week-long series of presentations – which were enjoyed by our student body and faculty. Images of the student presentations can be found at NIDA Galleries.


Third year BFA (Costume) students Research Presentation

Four Bachelor of Fine Arts (Costume) year three students produced some wonderful costumes as part of their research exercise.

The project encouraged creative exploration into individual interests, as students used research skills to explore a concept of their choosing and report their findings. The four topics explored were: creature costumes; designer Charles James and his unusual techniques for creating structured dresses in the 1950s; the most influential 1960’s space age designers; and museum techniques of recording and displaying historical garments.

‘Two of the students, Isabella Cannavo and Ella Horsfall, used one-fifth scale models as a starting point for their 1950s dress and monster costume respectively. Bella scanned hers to create a timber framework that was cut in NIDA’s sets workshop, which she then worked over to make her skirt silhouette,’ said NIDA’s Head of Costume, Annette Ribbons.

Fellow student Kathleen Szabo was surprised to discover that the shoes that accompanied the 1881 wedding dress which she had studied using the NIDA archive were made by a renowned French shoemaker, whose products are also found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the V&A museum.

Apply today for the 2018 BFA (Costume) course by visiting apply.nida.edu.au.


Third year BFA (Properties and Objects) Masterwork Presentations  

Third year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Properties and Objects) students conducted research projects into a range of areas, including puppetry-based ideas, sculptures and digital fabrication techniques.

For the masterwork, students were able to generate and develop their own ideas, working independently to question and reflect on their personal motivations and emotional commitment to their work.

Savannah Mojidi developed a puppet that can be carried on the body, while Indigo-Rose Redding explored the aesthetic honesty of materials and the practical varied mechanism embedded in a puppet. Away from puppetry, Adelle Kristensen explored various materials and their potential to be used for sculptures, and Jessie Spencer explored the use of digital fabrication techniques for body kinetic wearables.

‘The fact that students were preparing and rehearsing their presentation on their own was an important factor. They came up with ideas and developed a theatrical flow in the way they wanted to present their work. They even kept a few secrets which were only revealed during presentation. In addition, they assertively decided to have a self-directed extra rehearsal without a director, showing their commitment and willingness to impress the audience, which makes enormous sense. After all, these Properties and Objects makers are trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, where impressing audiences is central to everything we do,’ commented Head of Properties and Objects, Marcelo Zavala-Baeza.

Apply today for the 2018 BFA (Properties and Objects) course by visiting apply.nida.edu.au.


First year BFA (Staging) students Cafe Installation Project 

The purpose of the staging project, meanwhile, was to enable the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Staging) year one students to integrate skills and knowledge learned in session one and two in the first semester of their first year by applying them to a real world task.

In the first session of semester one in first year, they receive training in timber and metal fabrication within their Material and Structures subject. In the second session of the same semester, they are given a budget and facilities to create an architectural element around the theme of a ‘Café’.

In the past, the project has produced Japanese tea houses and Wild West saloons, for example. Beneath the café is evidence of traditional stage carpentry in the gate leg rostra, which required excellent joinery skills to attain the level of finish presented.

‘The students are then asked to animate the café structure within their Stage Machinery subject. Students begin by surveying the mass of their build, calculating the force required to accelerate it to a desired velocity, calculate coefficients of friction (in this case in the turntable) design a drive mechanism which is capable of applying an appropriate force in the desired direction and then build and install the mechanisms and structures you see here,’ commented NIDA’s Head of Staging, Nick Day.

Just prior to the installation in NIDA’s Nancy Fairfax Foyer, the students also received some instruction in faux finishes and scenic techniques for presentation. This year students wanted to place their café in the French belle epoque so gathered many art nouveau references, and then distilled them down to the end product.

‘Normally students might shy away from the complexities of the nouveau period due to the time required to create the complex curves etc. Eileen Ortiona and Grace Llanwarne saw the presence of the CNC router as a way to produce the glazing details and went about creating toolpathing to realise their design from their CAD and Adobe Illustrator documents,’ added Day.

Apply today for the 2018 BFA (Staging) course by visiting apply.nida.edu.au.


Second year BFA (Design for Performance) Paper Project Presentation 

Second year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students produced some stunning paper costumes as part of their studio exercise, The Paper Project, for which they individually designed and realised a costumed character made primary of paper and cardboard.

The project usually requires students to use a script in order to choose a character. This year, however, the cohort selected a James Tissot 19th century painting of a female figure. The fundamental aim was to create a strong, theatrical silhouette. As a group they were then required to collaborate together to create an installation in NIDA Theatres, Space with lights and sound, in which they perform the ‘characters’ before the staff and student body.

‘The main challenge is the fragility of paper against the human body. This year the students were incredible, in that they all brought in sewing machines and sewed calico underpinnings (bustle, bum rolls and corset) beneath their dresses and also machined sewed the paper to the calico which gave the garments extra strength and support. Every other year we have gone through kilos of hot glue sticks…not this year!’ commented NIDA’s Design Lecturer, Sue Field.

Apply today for the 2018 BFA (Design for Performance) course by visiting apply.nida.edu.au.