Nayland College student Ivy Weir won the Tony Catford Shakespeare Costume Design Competition at the University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Nayland student wins national costume award

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Ivy Weir started sewing because she wanted to make her own toys.

“I was disappointed with the toys that were in the toyshop – I wanted all the clothes and toys that I made up in my head.”

So, she made them herself. Then, as the Nayland College student developed her skills, she also began looking at costume design. “I’m really interested in trying to show the character and their story.”

Ivy enjoyed doing drama, but realised that the stage wasn’t for her. Instead, she became involved with the productions – doing hair and makeup for school shows. “I like the whole atmosphere, but I was too afraid to go on stage so being able to be part of it is really cool.”

Nayland College student Ivy Weir won the Tony Catford Shakespeare Costume Design Competition at the University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Photo: Charles Anderson.
Nayland College student Ivy Weir’s design.

So when the opportunity came to put forward a design for the University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival’s costume design award, she got down to her sketch book.

Ivy was given Ophelia, the tragic female character from Hamlet.

“She is unstable and doesn’t have much control over her life,” says Ivy. “Other people in her life dictate things for her.”

Ivy decided to bring in two key scenes into Ophelia’s dress – one is where she hands out flowers layered with meaning to different characters and the other is her final scene where she dies.

The design renders those flowers and the location of Ophelia’s death almost as if the audience is reading a story on her costume. “I wanted to represent her as this trapped-in creature and how that results in her final fate.”

When she submitted her design, she didn’t expect to get far. But then she was drawn as a finalist – meaning her design would be created by a professional designer in Dunedin.

“It was so cool to see it in real life. Up until then it had just been in my head.”

Then Ivy’s name was called out as the overall winner. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I’ve been thinking about studying fashion so this really affirmed that decision.”

She will now travel to Dunedin for a short crash course in costume design and also potentially be selected to go to London to study at the Globe on the banks of the River Thames.

“That would be amazing.”