Friday, 16 January 2015

Joining the tribe - Creating a mask of Gnoumou

In response to looking at work by Charles Freger, I began looking into cultures that use costumes to represent animals for the purposes of performance. The Gnoumou tribe create elaborate masks on a large scale, accompanied by intricate costumes to celebrate young boys in the tribe becoming men. That look like the following image. 
For some unknown reason, I decided that I was going to make one of these. Despite the fact that after researching I read how they take months on end to prepare, I've given myself two weeks. Damn it. 
The easy bit was creating the shape of the mask. After measuring out the scale and proportions to be similar to the original traditional masks. 

After the creation of the general shape,  I gave the piece a layer of black acrylic to create a base layer and a 'blank canvas' to begin my design onto.
The pole runs fully up the back of the mask to distribute weight as the majority of the mask will be above head height. This  makes it more comfortable for the performer to work in. After strengthening the back with additional cardboard in the weaker spots the mask has become more fit for purpose. 
In order to create the head dress section of the costume design I decided to hand thread a wig using standard knitting wool and a whole bucket of patience. In hind sight I should have tested the method, and how long the process would take as I would've realised its a very lengthy process and not easily achievable in the time frame I set myself.
bringing all these elements together should allow me to create a design closely similar to the actual thing.
I decided I needed to work onto the mask to make it 3D as without this the piece loses impact. Using chicken wire and paper mache' I was able to create my desired beak like shape.
although on reflection it is too large in scale for the rest of the mask so I will have to take it off from the piece and then reattach it using wire and a glue gun in order to make it secure. However I am pleased with the shape and stability of the beak.
More posts documenting the progress of the mask will be posted. . . keep your eyes peeled people!

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