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creating a costume inspired by cannell

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

This is a guest column written by Eva Michael-White (@mondo.gonzo on Instagram), who is contributing a unique and interesting piece for the project.


I first heard about this project from a friend, and got involved when the organiser messaged me. I began to research Cannels work by reading interviews and his obituary, to understand what his ideas and methods were, but ultimately it is the art itself which is most important. His use of colour is what attracts me the most, these bright bold shapes all jostling for attention, I love using colour in a similar way in my own work so that aspect really spoke to me. There is a great expressive nature to Cannells work, large confident marks, but also so much detail. I see a new shape or mark or face every time I look at them. This is what I'm really excited to translate into costume, the busy colours and abstract forms. As well as this, I’m also really inspired and intrigued by Cannels fascination with childrens drawings and non-dominant hand drawings; I personally love doing blind and left hand drawings because of the absolute nonsense and abstraction that comes from it. This method of simplifying forms, caricaturing and exaggerating them, is exactly how I aim to design my piece. This concept of a childish drawing, something simple yet exaggerated in shape, abnormally long arms and large head with cartoonish hands and feet, is exactly what i want to bring to life from his work.

Experimenting doing left hand childish drawings with oil pastels.

As this is a textile piece, I want to translate the myriad of different colours and forms into a variety of textures too. For example, I plan to use raw wool and pompoms as well as soft sculpture techniques to achieve the big shapes.

I really enjoy working with soft sculpture and costume, I’ve always loved sewing and I find soft sculpture to be really inspiring. Pieces such as Bas Koster’s stuffed fashion creations, as well as traditional folk costume, has been what really inspired me these past few years in my creations. Elements of story and culture coming together to create these larger than life characters, absoloute gonzoid creations that create a great impact on people. I love watching people react to my own large costumes, often with confusion and delight, occasionaly with fear but that only adds another level of emotion.

My folk inspired costumes and masks at last years ‘elevate’ show at lemon quay.

I think this project is a wonderful way to commemorate an artist, especially Paul Cannell, and I’m really excited to begin working on this project and see how other people interpret his work.


Eva Michael-White is an extremely talented artist and valuable contributor to the Damp Water Spot project. For more of her work - visit her Instagram at @mondo.gonzo

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