Project description

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren is originally a children's book, but I made it into a dance piece, inspired by nature, Swedish folk costume and draping experiments, taking it away from the iconic original designs and into something completely new, while still keeping a dreamlike ethereal feeling of cherry blossoms in the spring.

The play Time was born from personal experiences, historical research and personal reflections. The story centers on a house where the veil of time is thin and several time periods co-exist in the same space. The colour palette is distinct and stark, dividing the different time-periods by colour blocking.

Video of my two costumes from my graduation projects, 2021. Video: Sandy Butler
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

The Brothers Lionheart is the story about two brothers, Jonatan and Karl, who die and go to the after-death land Nangijala. Nangijala is a place of adventure and fairytales, but there is a tyrant, Tengil, who they need to fight to achieve peace and freedom again.

I designed nine characters for this project, seen further down, and made the costume for the character Jonatan Lionheart.

Jonatan Lionheart in embroidered wool jacket and silk jumpsuit. Side-portrait. expand
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021. Photo: Sandy Butler
Jonatan Lionheart dancing in mid-spin. Three images in a collage.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021, In Movement. Photo: Sandy Butler
Embroidered jacket seen from the front.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021, Front Jacket Detail. Photo: Sandy Butler
Jonatan Lionheart in embroidered wool jacket and silk jumpsuit. Full body portrait.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021. Photo: Sandy Butler
Embroidered jacket seen from the back.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021, Back Detail. Photo: Sandy Butler
Jonatan Lionheart in embroidered wool jacket and silk jumpsuit. Whole costume seen from the back.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021. Photo: Sandy Butler
Jonatan Lionheart

The character of Jonatan is portrayed as the perfect hero and saviour. He is big brother to Karl (Skorpan) Lionheart, the narrator.

When designing the character Jonatan, I needed something that communicated both beautiful leader and quiet humbleness. He would never dress fancy and over the top, but that is how other people see him. Two difficult contrasts to unify.

Most of his design choices are quite literal. I placed the main weight of the garment low to the ground, because he is down-to-earth and it also enables magnificent movement for his legs while not being in the way. The idea of his main textures being based on laser cutting comes from him giving away too much of himself inhis selflessness, leaving holes. The colour yellow comes from him being the golden boy in the story. Successful and admired by all but himself.

Two Jonatan Lionhearts in costume, looking at gold silk flowers. Collage of two images.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021, Dupion Silk Flowers. Photos: Sandy Butler
Line up with four characters in costume.
Line-up. From left to right: Sofia, Karl (Skorpan) Lionheart, Jossi, Hubert. 2021.
Yellow and white digital art with silhouttes of doves flying from a burning house. To the right an illustration of Jonatan Lionheart.
Illustration of Jonatan Lionheart on a digital art background depicting the brothers' death, 2021
Line up with four characters in costume.
Line-up. From left to right: Orvar, Tengil, Veder&Kader, Mattias. 2021.
Sleeve detail of embroidery on jacket.
Jonatan Lionheart, 2021, Sleeve Detail. Photo: Sandy Butler
Time by Lovisa Litsgard

The narrative of Time is set during an early spring day, but in several years at once, overlapping. Elvira, just about to graduate from school, and now visiting her grandma in her big old house, has an important conversation with her grandma Astrid. Recounting memories and telling tales from old times, Astrid helps Elvira understand herself and open her eyes to how wonderful and terrible the world is around her.

What none of them knows, is that in this particular house, the veil of time is thin, so to say, and echoes of past and future residents all appear to live there together. Separated by time, and connected by time. Parallel while also sequential, interactive and also utterly unaware. One could call the echoes of past times ghosts, but it would not describe what they are, and what would they call you? A ghost from the future?

As Elvira comes to realise, they are all connected through their universal experiences of life and death, love and loss. History is to be learned from, not repeated, neither glorified nor forgotten. We’re all just human, living, breathing, having a bad day, or experiencing a life changing event. We follow past, present and future inhabitants searching and finding and losing connection.

The character I have chosen to make is Aubrey, living in 1926.

Aubrey in purple 1920s coat, leaning backwards.
Aubrey, 2021. Photo: Sandy Butler
Line-up of 11 characters. expand
Line-up of characters and costumes designed for Time, 2021.

(1888-1944) (56y)

Aubrey, a white bisexual woman with her roots in Italy, is 38 years-old in 1926. Her parents are not alive, and she has inherited all the money as their only child. She started out her career as an actress but started writing scripts as soon as she could. Now, a moderately successful
screenwriter and producer of silent film, she has created a large network. She is proud to a fault and uses her charisma to her advantage. She is witty and knows what she is talking about, but if she sometimes does not, no one would never know. Working in the creative industry she follows the latest fashion trends. Ambition has given her a strong work ethic verging on workaholism. She has developed a loud and harsh tongue to be taken seriously at work and likes to hunt pheasants. A fine shot too.

The jazz musician Melissa, Aubrey’s girlfriend who she lives with, is the only one who ever gets to see Aubrey’s softer side. The only one she dares to be vulnerable with. Even when work is swamping her, taking time away from her sleep, she always makes time for Melissa and goes to her gigs as often as possible. Aubrey’s role in this narrative is to represent romantic love, and a problematic working life.

Aubrey will die in the Second World War during a bomb raid. Melissa will live on for another 26 years, but will not be able stay in their home and will sell the place to Louise, to escape the memories.

Design Choices

Being a person who works in the creative industry and with a past life as an actress, Aubrey knows all the latest trends. The fabric in her garments needed to be fabulous and new, and the cut on point.

I did several experiments for making the fake fur out of the wool scraps I knew I would get from the coat and hat. I knew fur was needed to make the costume look fashion 1926, but I did not want to use plastic fake fur, nor real fur (in my opinion it is a precious material that should be used for clothes that are worn in daily life, not costumes). Instead, I chose to make my own, an alternative route which tied well in with the surreal themes as well.

The symbol I chose for her is the scalloped shell. The shell is both a symbol for love and one of the most common shapes in Art Deco. The shell is also hard on the outside, protecting a softer inside, making it the perfect analogy for her personality.

The stylised shell shape is present in all her garments; in the cording on the coat, the seam placement on the hat, the cuffs and shape of the skirt of the dress. Of course decorated with freshwater pearls to keep the theme right through.

Aubrey posing with one hand on hip in purple 1920s dress.
Aubrey, 2021, Dress. Photo: Sandy Butler
Aubrey in 1920s coat with back turned.
Aubrey, 2021, Back of Coat. Photo: Sandy Butler
Aubrey in 1920s coat with back turned. Close up.
Aubrey, 2021, Back of Coat Collar Detail. Photo: Sandy Butler
Detail of Aubrey's coat seen from the back.
Aubrey, 2021, Back of Coat Detail. Photo: Sandy Butler
Skills & Experience
  • Wardrobe Assistant at Astrid Lindgren's World, Vimmerby, Sweden, 2019
  • Costume Designer, FLIT, short film by Jack Allen, 2019
  • Costume Assistant, UFO (Unsupervised Fleeing Oldtimers), short film by Cheery Ng, 2019
  • Costume Assistant, When The Rain Stops Falling, Bedlam Theatre, 2019

Lovisa Litsgard

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren and Time by Lovisa Litsgard