“And even this heart of mine has something artificial. The dancers have sewn it into a bag of pink satin, pink satin slightly faded, like their dancing shoes.”
― Edgar Degas
As a child one of my favourite films was “The Tales of Beatrix Potter.” A ballet film based on the works of the famous children’s author and illustrator, it was produced by the Royal Ballet and is an utterly charming piece of work to me even now. It was choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton and, true to ballet, there is no speaking. It’s just dancing and absolutely charming costumes based carefully on the drawings of the original stories.
It turns out, those costumes are now stored just a few minutes walk from my flat!
Sands Films studios is a famous costume making workshop, a small film studio operating since the 1970s, and also the home of a vast photo library open to the public that contains a vast collection of original images. Unlike a number of archives, it’s available to anyone who wants to use it for research and reference purposes. It is just behind St. Mary’s church and across the street from the notable Mayflower pub.
The workshop has made costumes for a number of notable films over the decades, including recent ones like Lincoln, The Young Victoria, Marie Antoinette, and Les Miserables. They have also made costumes for TV programs, operas, and stage productions. If you’ve seen these or most major British/British made period films over the last handful of decades, there’s a good chance you’ve admired some of their handiwork.
Though it’s operational hours clash with my work, if there is every a day that a holiday and an opening meet up, you can bet I’m finding a way to make a visit happen. I have no idea what I’m going to find, but I’m determined to talk my way into as much as possible. The worn out VHS tape in my parent’s basement demands it!