Sun July 17th 2016
Much sooner than I hoped it was time for Art Couture Painswick (ACP) again- I’d been busy away painting nearly every day for 8 days, and with a sick toddler hasn’t finished the props I wanted to make for it.
ACP is a stunning biennial event in the scenic Cotswold town of Painswick. Streets are closed for the day and filled with food and craft stalls, whilst competitors in a range of categories wander the 10,000 crowds in the clothing and headgear they made from unusual objects.
Angela Youngs in her 2016 creation
The main stage catwalk and judging (by celebrity/ industry experts etc) is set up in the historic churchyard with its 99 yew trees.
Photo by Tony Cook
I have been lucky enough to paint in the body art category every year since that was included. In 2012 I placed 3rd with my “Comedy Queen’ about UK TV comedies for the ‘Celebrating Britain’ theme.
The following year, again on model Laurence Caird, my Victorian Magic Man depicting stage magic & automatons from the 1800’s, won the Body Art 1st place!
This year the Body Paint Category’s theme was ‘Food For Thought’, so I based my design on plastic pollution in the ocean and how if affects sea-life which in turn affects our food-chain. I planned a huge neck ruff of recycled bottles, etc, but it wasn’t looking quite as I wanted. Its a bit tough to design things like that without the actual model to fit it too, and as the lovely Grace (god-mum of my toddler) was based in Norwich & I’m now in Bath, I wasn’t seeing her before the event. Or I needed the shop dummy to fit my props to that I typically sold when we moved to Bath as we didn’t have the space! But I liked the bottle-jellyfish I’d made.
We had to send in a statement about the artwork in advance, so this was mine – actually sent in a few weeks before, unusually for me, so I had a brief to paint to if not an actual design plan!:
“Plastic Soup/ All the Fish in the Sea
Only 5% of plastic is recycled, 1/3 escapes into oceans, a lorry full per minute. By 2050 plastic will outweigh any fish in the sea.
Marine creatures starve as it fills them, or strangle in netting and 6-pack rings. Bags look like jellyfish underwater, so if turtles catch one, their special throats, evolved to stop jellyfish escaping, mean they have to keep eating it.
Albatross eat fish eggs on floating objects. Toothbrushes, lighters, sanitary waste – all stuffed dead albatross chicks.
Ocean currents collect ‘plastic soups’ millions of kilometres wide, 5 swirling rubbish patches twice the size of Texas. The sea bed, Earth’s last frontier, is coated in tiny plastic particles.
Boyan Slat’s cleanup system, a floating barrier passively collecting rubbish for recycling, launches in 2020. But we need to stop plastic ending up in our oceans if we want to keep our seas and ourselves alive.”
Grace & Jennie stayed overnight at my mums’, then followed me over to Painswick far to early on a lovely sunny morning. One of the kind ACP volunteers jumped into my car to direct me to the competitors carpark, and luckily I bumped into a bunch of other painters who had already dropped off their kit who helped cart my stuff to the hall beside the Art Couture Gallery.
We had so much space to set up in- luxury! And ladies offering cups of tea etc.
I set up my kit, and as the briefing went on started attempting to add rollers and plastic flotsam to Gracie’s hair, which was allowed before the official start. The rules are only professional cosmetic products, only a small % of stencilling or prosthetics, and 6 hours with a compulsory break in the middle.
At 9.30 we started painting and I began to kabuki on colours in Cameleon white, yellow and celadon. I hate yellow so am trying to use it for once! I shaded the white neck / face with the Kryolan lustre powders in white & blue, dry (as they can be used wet).
We were closed to the public for the 1st few hours, out of respect for the models and to let artwork cover over underwear etc (even though all models wear underwear and female models have breast covers on) but I made sure I had blended colours on Gracies back too before the doors opened.
The turtle in yellow, orange, bollywood pink, purple & inkheart blue, I based on several photos I found on the internet and a bit of memory from living in Belize. From then until the lunch break we chatted to extremely interested public as I painted.
After snacks / lunch we started again but sadly I’d not switched on the plug so my camera ran out of battery & stopped taking time-lapse pics. I had planned to paint or make paper netting strangling the turtle but Gracie held a poll with the public and they decided I wasn’t allowed to! I did love the turtle too so I left that out.
On the back I painted a whale & baby and a colourful, healthy reef. I added freehand glitter tattoos over the abstract bobbly layer I had painted around her shoulders (to represent the layer of plastic shapes) and decorated that with glitters from Facade and Kryolan.
Her face I re-used some zombie paste prosthetics I had sculpted when Gracie was being Sc’Ariel at the Prosthetic Event last year. I added flat-back pearls and some heat fused film and then added more pearls and recycled plastic to her hair
I stopped painting about an hour early, after the public were ushered out, as I knew I would be a while sorting out the not-quite finished props.
After a lot of messing about we decided the bottle-ruff was too bridal if worn over Gracies head, and too awkward if worn on her shoulders. I also ended up ditching the isis wings, and stuck to the jellyfish, gems and beads, all made of plastic bottles or recycled from ornaments etc. It gave a slightly netted/ dancer effect tangled around Gracies arms and neck, but I loved it. Sadly (?) it was so sunny the glowsticks inside the jellyfish weren’t visible outside the hall though.
We all trooped out into bright sunshine to applause from the waiting public which was fantastic.
Following Paul who was once again our charming cheeky Town Crier, all body artists took their models through the streets and across the churchyard to the photo rooms for official shots. Grace & I then took a few photos and she posed for the public in the churchyard.
The models were then presented onstage whilst our design statements were read out.
Whilst judges deliberated, and the other category awards were given, Paul took most of the models (some couldn’t walk too far due to the heat or uncomfy shoes or props) on a tour of the churchyard, streets, and finally the main road.
I really loved this paint and was a bit over-excited through the whole day. I’m so happy that it turned out like I had imagined (and that now it is out of my head I will sleep a bit better!).
Huge thanks to all the staff, sponsors, volunteers, organisers, the hugely appreciative public, and of course my genius model Gracie! Also my mum who wrangle my 2 boys (the toddler being hot & sticky & awkward!) all day….