St Ia’s Dress

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St Ia’s Dress by Andrea Carr

Costume/Sculpture: Andrea Carr
Artist in the Landscape
Participatory project
working with St Ives Archive,
and local artists
Tech. Costume Support:
Kate Whitehead
Well Wisher’s Festival
Organized by: Jo Mayes
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives,
Cornwall 2011
ongoing project 2015

St Ia’s Dress is a fusion of local myth, the legend of St Ia and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, exploring themes of transformation and transition. A processional performance with a unique response to the site, choreographed within the landscape, it travelled from a nearby ‘well’ to Porthmeor Beach, forming part of Well Wisher’s Festival. 

The costume/sculpture is part corset, part boat and part constraint. Attached to the skirt is a 15m long train, representing a time-line from a mythical past through to present day, which the character pulls behind her. St Ia’s journey through time and space concludes, stepping out from the costume (which is left standing as a sculpture), freed from the constraints of history and the burden of identity the scenographic transformation is revealed. Winding the train around the base the costume/sculpture now transforms; part well, part shrine, the audience invited to make a wish and throw a stone into the hollow of the sculpture/shrine/well. The performance concludes as St Ia walks into the sea, from where according to legend she first arrived, carried from Ireland on a leaf. 

As part of the project some of the imagery (on the dress) was sourced at St Ives Archive and contributed by local artists.