Project description


For my final Performance Costume MFA project I chose to explore the world of folkloric stories and traditions. To be a costume designer is ultimately to be a storyteller, and so to me, looking back at these ancient stories is not only to examine the origins of modern performance, but also explore the roots of our modern belief systems. The U.K. is still rich in folkloric traditions, stories of kelpies, giants and fairies are still told around many campfires, as well as splashed through Hollywood films, and although the creatures may be mythical, each tells us something about our ancestors as well as ourselves. 

"The uses of folklore are many and it is often used with intent. Its stories can underpin a sense of identity and belonging and reinforce the ideas people hold about themselves. It can be used as a cultural ‘weapon’, wielded against rival groups to prove they are wrong, inferior or illegitimate. Folklore is alive and impossible to pin down, and can be dangerous. It presents people with a mirror to their own face, and can reveal the darker, more primal side of life. It is, after all, a thing written in the wind and the rushing waters."

A Treasury of British Folklore by Dee Dee Chainey


Film of Folklore Project: King Arthur and The Wishing Well
The Wishing Well: Full body in motion

The Wishing Well: made with recycled 100% cotton (from curtain linings), cotton organdie fabric and vintage glass beads.

King Arthur: full body costume

King Arthur: made with biodegradable eco-epoxy resin, deadstock 100% linen fabric, LEDs with rechargeable batteries, and recycled cotton fabric. 

The Wishing Well: filming behind the scenes
King Arthur: Behind the scenes
Sample of Costume Illustrations and Textiles

For this project, the full cast includes 20 characters, each a personification of specific stories, creatures or overarching beliefs of folkloric tradition. These characters take you on a journey that steps out of this world and into the Other World; a world of myth made reality that examines gender, morality and our relationship with nature. 

Being environmentally conscious was hugely important during this project and the natural world was my main source of inspiration in forming these characters. I experimented with foraging and collecting materials to use in natural dyeing and eco printing as well as directly incorporating organic material into the fabric.

To see the full list of characters please visit: 


Illustrations: Woodland
Illustrations: Rock and Stone

To see full design book please see link top left. 

Meet the Maker


I'm Polly and I just wanted to finish this page by saying a huge thank you for viewing my work - it is always a highlight when you get to actually meet the people who react (whatever those reactions may be) to what you've been making and if times were more 'normal' then we would be meeting in real life and having those great creative discussions. 

I am now a freelance costume designer living and working in Edinburgh and would love for you to get in touch if you have any thoughts, questions, queries or just want a general chinwag! 

You can find me at: 




Photograph of myself