I got caught up in the Game of Thrones in the 4th season – binged it all up and then followed it week after week religiously. One of the details you notice as a fan is the rich texture of the costumes – clear indication that the production team is as much in love with the books as any of us. Yet finding the artists to create the wonderful clothes and armours, to imagine and deliver the fabulous embroidery on Cersei’s dresses in silk or leather or Daenerys’s blue dragonscale tunic is quite a feat in this day and age.
The eyes, brains and hands behind the magical embroidery on the GoT costumes belong to Michele Carragher, a young and very talented British artist, with an impressive portfolio of costume design for period and fantasy movies. Here are her thoughts on embroidery, creativity and the World of Costume in an exclusive interview.
You seem to have drawn inspiration for your wonderful embroidery work from many sources – from architecture to painting and jewellery. What is the one most important thing that you learned from each of these three?
Because I often want to create sculptural and 3 dimensional elements to my embroidery I find it really useful to look at architectural decoration, or jewellery as a starting point as it will be easier for me to visualise the embroidery for the particular piece I am working on, for example a lion, from an already sculpted shape.
I do however look to nature too, particularly if I want to capture movement within a piece. Within paintings I may be looking to the historical textiles and decoration within them, or it may be to look at how colours, mood and light have been captured by a particular artist.
You have worked both for Elizabeth I, where the need for historical accuracy was a bit stricter, and for Game of Thrones, which allows for more creativity? Which setup worked better for you – the one that provided more guidelines for your work or the one that left everything to your imagination?
For a historical drama like Elizabeth I there are usually documented references for you to draw on, in books, on the Net and in Museums, and you use all these to influence your designs but you don’t have to recreate pin point accurate embroideries, as there wouldn’t be time to do this. You are trying to create an impression of the style of work that is believable to the audience as belonging to the period you are portraying on screen and is suitable for the particular character’s status or narrative story. With a Fantasy like Game of Thrones you have more freedom to create designs as you are not restricted to a specific period in time.
Whatever genre of film you are working towards conveying a visual narrative to the audience to create a believable and understandable world, be it contemporary, fictional, factual or fantasy.
Out of the two productions I would say I prefer working on Game of Thrones as it has allowed me to present my own authorship within the designs I have created, this doesn’t take away any importance from my work on Elizabeth 1, I loved the challenge it presented me with the designs I had to conceive, and I really did enjoy working on this project due the Elizabethan era being such a great period of history to work on, with lots of rich encrusted decoration. Continue reading “A modern fairy – Michele Carragher”