Princes, showgirls, painted ladies and dazzling gentlemen will descend on central London this spring to take part in a series of live art events and costume parades through Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
Models wearing costumes designed and interpreted by students from Wimbledon College of Art – and inspired by paintings in the National Gallery Collection – will perform outside the Gallery on 1 May between 5.30pm and 6pm (weather permitting).
After the parade outside, the Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing Theatre stage will become a catwalk for a special free show entitled The Prince and the Showgirl. Here, the costume designers and makers will talk the public through their creations. Highlights in the show will include costumes inspired by Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers', Botticelli’s 'Venus and Mars', Velázquez’s 'Philip IV of Spain' and Turner’s 'Fighting Temeraire'.
Between 7.30pm and 8.30pm the models will then parade on a set route around the Gallery before striking a pose in front of the individual paintings used by the designers as their inspiration.
Three more events with live art and costumes created by students from Wimbledon College of Art will take place in May as part of Friday Lates programming at the Gallery.
On 8 May models will appear on stage in the Sainsbury Wing and next to some of the paintings that inspired the designs in a show called Transfigurations. Costumes making their catwalk debut will include those inspired by Delaroche’s 'The Execution of Lady Jane Grey' and Degas’s 'Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando'.
On 22 May a parade entitled Everyman, based on characters from the classic morality play and inspired by National Gallery pictures, will take place. Paintings used as a starting point for these particular costumes include Holbein’s 'Ambassadors' and Picasso’s 'Child with a Dove'.
Finally on 29 May, models will parade through the Gallery in costumes bringing 17th- and 18th-century paintings to life in Stepping Out of the Frame.
All 70 of the participating designers attend costume ‘pathways’ at Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. Show one’s costumes have been made by Wimbledon’s third-year Costume Interpretation students, show two’s by third-year Costume Design students, show three’s by second-year Costume Design students and show four’s by second-year Costume Interpretation students.
The participants have been designing and preparing the costumes since September 2008 and have utilised a wide selection of modern materials and techniques to make their unique creations, including dyes, paints, satins, corsetry and paper layering.
The National Gallery’s Head of Education, Colin Wiggins, said:
"These fantastic shows will demonstrate how the National Gallery’s collection has the potential for inspiring individual creativity.
"The show will make the paintings from the National Gallery’s collection jump out of the frame and come alive on the catwalk.
"The Gallery is always looking to develop and extend its programmes as we believe that everyone has the capacity to understand, enjoy and be stimulated by the great paintings in its collection, and we wish to help people who are not regular visitors to discover this for themselves."