March 03, 2005

My love of masks and face paint and our Installation Medea Project…

A few weeks ago I would have pretty much turned off at the sound of the word 'mask'. Yes, they are interesting and have always appreciated a good bit of mask, but they now thrill me an embarrassingly large amount. Although I have been in love with The Labyrinth and all of Jim Henson's other projects for as long as I can possibly remember, I have never really researched or made any masks. Oh but I am so in love with our little creations.

Today Diddams and I were talking about how the visual aspects of live theatre really thrill us. Colour, textures, scenery, costume, make-up: these are the things that really get me going and are the reasons that I think theatre is so unique. That is why I was so pleased to be putting together an ‘installation’ style piece, the audience can really get close to all of our little portions of the performance… the film, the collage/artwork, the video clips of children… it is all genuinely brilliant and I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such a talented collection of people.

Thanks to Annisa for the mask info, I agree that the Noh masks are very beautiful and did come into our research quite a bit, I hope that is evident when you see them… my housemate just asked if we were playing ghosts so hopefully others can appreciate their 'ethereal' qualities.

In the future I hope to play with face paint more and progress on to full body paint. I doubt we can get any into our current piece but – my oh my – if we could then I wouldn't be able to control my excitement.

Today’s session was possibly the most productive, this may be due to the thirteen glorious hours of sleep I had last night that was chock-full of dreams about masks and face painting.

We completed the masks:



We also worked on the harmonies for the songs we will be singing/humming. Inspired by some of the harmonies/songs on Brian Wilson’s "Smile": link [click on the sample of ‘Our Prayer’ to hear what I am going on about] we tried out a melody that Anna taught us. It is a haunting tune that sounds fantastic in the acoustics of the masks, they work as little caves or microphones.

We also chose the lines that we will be saying. We picked the text from a very old translation, which I feel gives the piece even more of an otherworldly quality. One of the major advantages of using ‘ye olde English’ is the contrast it will have against the very modern dialogue in the film project.

“When the hand knows what it dares,
When thine eyes look into theirs,
Shalt thou keep thy tears unblended
Thy dividing of the slain?
These be deeds Not for thee:
These be things that cannot be!
Thy babes – though thine hardihood be fell,
‘twill be well!”

Many people will have seen Anna walking around campus with a blue face today, as Diddams and I played with her face a lot.



I was rather pleased with the finished product, as I feel the unveiling will be beautiful. However, we need to be more focused and not just make it up as we go along. I spent a bit of time sketching this afternoon, just trying to get a few designs for the chorus’ faces:

Here are a few possible patterns that we could paint on faces, these are little segments of some paintings I’ve done:


I particularly like sun and moon imagery. In my sketches above, I have tried to incorporate the sun, here is how it looks on paper when using paint. I hope to recreate this on someone’s face.

I’d also really like to paint some veins onto the skin, or vines growing across the skin. This is a bit of a crap photo, but hopefully you can make out what I mean:

All feedback is welcome, any suggestions for patterns or designs for face painting would be nice. As for the future of our masks, I think we will add some string/ripped up rope to them for hair, we will then make our hair big and messy and tie the rope in with our own hair to give us a savage wild-woman effect.


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  1. Hannah, you might find Chinese Peking Opera interesting, as they do face painting.

    03 Mar 2005, 18:09

  2. Thank you very much, Guohui!
    I did a Google Image search and got instantly excited by the results:
    link
    link

    I especially love this pic link and am basically going to try to rip it off in our Chorus performance.

    These pics may appear in a blog entry very soon, although I really should stop blogging every cool picture of face paint I find.

    link

    03 Mar 2005, 18:48

  3. Hannah I love it all!! I also love the way u have so may photos and not endless amount of writing like myself-the maks look class and anna looked amazin! Chrous group rule!! (and every1 else!!)xx

    04 Mar 2005, 13:02

  4. Glad that you like their face-painting. Feel like giving you a small present, Hannah, you might like it more than I do.

    04 Mar 2005, 18:33

  5. What? An actual present… for me?

    04 Mar 2005, 20:17

  6. Sofie, you make it seem like I don't do writing… Hugh might read this and think all I do is take pictures and the put them on my blog as an excuse for work.
    To rectify this, there is are my Mask Research notes in my Medea folder for everyone's educational pleasures.

    04 Mar 2005, 21:10

  7. yep

    07 Mar 2005, 09:05

  8. nora nugent

    I think your masks look great!
    They really help me with my s. studies project.
    I was wondering how you make them.

    28 Sep 2006, 22:19

  9. dustin

    them r some cool pics

    27 Jun 2007, 15:02


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