Gothic Design Project: Macbeth and The Castle of Otranto

Phew!! Second year is almost over and I haven’t had any time to upload my work so far, so here we go! The first project of the year was a ‘gothic’ design project. We were given the choice of designing the costumes for either Shakespeare’s Macbeth, or The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. We would concentrate on one character and then make our final costume design. We began the project with an introductory lecture on the Gothick and Walpole etc. It turns out that at the time The Castle of Otranto was written (1764) people thought of almost everything that came beforehand as ‘gothick’, and so I drew influences all the way from Byzantine up until the 18th Century.

As per, I found it very difficult to make a decision about which text to design for. I loved the fantasy nature of The Castle of Otranto, with it’s heightened emotions and it’s tendancy to be a little ridiculous. But was also inclined to challenge myself with Macbeth, and found it hard to resist the chance to use tartan! I began by working on both, which became a bit of a mammoth task, and did cause problems for me later in the project.

Our first task was research. My mistake here was the assumption that reading the introductions and appendices to both texts, as well as my – generally quite good – historical knowledge of the periods involved, was enough. I did not collate my written research as I should have done, instead I created visual research boards. These were not what my tutor calls a ‘mood board’, which is a collection of evocative imagery not necessarily related to how you want your play/film to look, but rather to convey the mood of the piece using metaphors. What I produced were more similar to the kind of mood boards used in the film and television industries. I use them to pull shapes, styles and colours from when designing the costumes, I can’t design from thin air!

With Macbeth I was very influenced by medieval, viking and Pre-Raphaelite imagery. For The Castle of Otranto I found lots of gothic and renaissance paintings, as well as many from later periods, finding religious imagery especially relevant. For both I used the fabulously rich illustrations of Victor G. Ambrus.

storyresearch

Macbeth research – story

ladymacresearch

Macbeth research – Lady Macbeth

witchesresearch

Macbeth research – Witches

soldiersresearch

Macbeth research – soldiers

tartanresearch

Macbeth research – tartan

Scan 33

The Castle of Otranto research – story

Scan

The Castle of Otranto research – architecture

Scan 1

The Castle of Otranto research – Manfred

Scan 2

The Castle of Otranto research – Hippolita

Scan 3

The Castle of Otranto research – Matilda

Scan 4

The Castle of Otranto research – Theodore

Scan 5

The Castle of Otranto research – Father Jerome

Scan 11

The Castle of Otranto research – Frederic

Scan 6

The Castle of Otranto research – Isabella

Scan 7

The Castle of Otranto research – Strawberry Hill House

Next step mood boards.

2 thoughts on “Gothic Design Project: Macbeth and The Castle of Otranto

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