Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 11:42 UK

Whistler work inspires costumes

Students study Whistler artwork

Students are using sketches by the artist Rex Whistler to recreate stage outfits designed for a 1935 production of Shakespeare's Tempest.

When completed the work will go on show at Plas Newydd, the National Trust-run property on Anglesey.

Tutor Alison Mercer said working to a brief as well as developing students' own designs was a good experience.

Whistler famously painted an 18m (50ft) mural at Plas Newydd after he fell in love with one of its residents.

Whistler was killed, aged 39, on his first day of action with the Welsh Guards in World War II in 1944.

The mural, painted between 1936 and 1937, includes coded references to his love for Lady Caroline, who later married someone else.

'Usual environment'

The students are following a National Diploma in Design at Coleg Menai in Bangor.

The college was approached by the National Trust with a brief to make two costumes from Whistler's designs for the 1935 production of Tempest at Stratford-on-Avon.

"After discussions we have two designs to concentrate on, one is the character of Iris, and the other is one of the six nymphs," said tutor Alison Mercer.

"The 12 students on the course have already done their research and are now at the point where they have begun to put their designs together.

"In a broader sense they are also working on personal projects based on everything they have seen here," she added.

Ms Mercer said the students had gained valuable experience by working outside their usual college environment.

William Roberts working on his designs
William Roberts said he had enjoyed studying Whistler's designs

"It is quite difficult in some ways, but easier in others but it is definitely broadening their outlook of what applied arts is," she added.

Gwen Roberts, 17, from Llanddona, said she had not visited Plas Newydd before.

"I've been inspired by the shapes of the building and the way it was put together," she said.

Being able to study the work of artist Rex Whistler was "inspiring", said William Roberts, 18 from Brynteg near Benllech.

"Since coming here I've started to sketch and draw a lot more because his (Whistler's) drawings are gorgeous," said Becky Smith, 18, from Bodedern who aspires to work in the world of fashion.

Ann Marie Schofield, 18, from Bethesda, said she was inspired by the history of her surroundings.

"I'm working on memory boxes of things from my childhood, some fabrics, but also buttons from a big box of stuff given to me by my gran," she said.

Plas Newydd house manager, David Ellender, said along with the work currently being done by the students, a room had been opened at the house for a large stage back-drop painted by Whistler.

This work of a view out of a window is usually unseen by the public because it is too large to display, he added.

Artist's love letters put on show
03 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
Whistler's work inspires ice art
10 Dec 06 |  North West Wales

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