The excitement in the build-up to this job was considerable and not only because it involved a brush with a Jedi. The V&A commissioned Chichester Design to photograph a very special theatre costume worn by Sir Alec Guinness and designed by Pamela Howard.
The costume was on loan for the Art of Chichester Festival Theatre – a Celebration exhibition at Pallant House Gallery. Guinness, best known, at least in the Chichester Design office, for his Star Wars role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, wore the costume when he played Shylock in a famous production of The Merchant of Venice at Chichester Festival Theatre in 1984.
The protective case in which the costume now resides was removed just long enough for us to carefully document it in its full glory. The purpose of the shoot was to show exactly how costume designer, Pamela Howard, who calls Selsey home and is now a familiar face in Chichester, intended the costume to be put together.
It was great to be able to make a contribution to the celebration of Chichester Festival Theatre through our photography. The exhibition, marking 50 years of the theatre and curated and designed by Howard, played on its status as the only theatre in the country purpose built in a park. Pallant House Gallery was carpeted in realistic-looking faux grass and adorned with models, costume drawings, costumes, memorabilia, films and videos.
For us, the most striking spectacle of the exhibition was a curious looking tree, which dripped with colourful reviews of performances at the theatre, and was carefully watched over by a wise-looking owl. Another favourite feature was a waste paper bin filled to the brim with theatre programmes from the last five decades for visitors to browse while sitting on a bench from one of the productions. I couldn’t help but think, “Has a Jedi sat here?”
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