Musicians taking part in a spectacular theatre dance performance this weekend will be dressed in costumes designed by four high school pupils.

Hazel Fairley-Keast, 16, Kirsten Bleasdale, 17, Fern Strang 17 and Mary Griffin, 16, from Dumfries and Galloway have been working with the highly renowned Oceanallover, from Moniaive, to help create the costumes for a large-scale production called Orographic.

As well as design skills the young women have learned a host of practical techniques, under the guidance of by Alex Rigg, and have each handmade the jackets – or upper body sections – of costumes.

The fruits of their labours will be on show on 2 September during an afternoon of events for Doors Open Day at Mill on the Fleet at Gatehouse of Fleet.

These will include a partial performance of Orographicas part of a guided walk up the nearby Trusty’s Hill and a full performance of the piece around the mill in the late afternoon.

Mary, whose own design is inspired by birds of prey, said:“It’s going to be really cool seeing our costumes being worn during a performance. We have learned so much from Alex about how to come up with designs and then how to turn them into real costumes.

“It’s taken me outside all my comfort zones, so I have learned new skills and ideas, which has been great. I’ll be taking all the skills I have learned back to school with me and using them for my Advanced Highers.”

The four young women have had the chance to work with Oceanallover thanks to the annual Modern Makers scheme run by Upland Arts Development CIC.

This aims to give young people from Dumfries and Galloway the chance to learn from leading figures in the area’s creative industries.

In this case they have been able to follow the process of costume design from start to finish.

Orographicis about human relationships with the environment. As part of the costume design process the four Modern Makers learned about the current project to reintroduce golden eagles to the Southern Uplands, including paying a visit to their last nesting place in Dumfries and Galloway.

They have also learned how to make costumes using a broad mix of materials from thick vinyl to delicate woven lace. And when Orographic was performed as part of the inaugural multi-sports European Championships they were able to help get performers into costume and putting on their make-up.

All four young people are now considering futures in the creative sector.

Alex said:“Designing and creating costumes is a very complex process. We asked them to come up with ideas inspired by the natural world and turn those into costume designs – which is a huge leap.

“Then we asked them to learn all the practical skills they needed to turn designs on paper into real costumes to be worn as part of a large-scale live performance, which is another huge leap.

“It’s a huge credit to them that they have been able to achieve all this – they’ve been great.”

Modern Makers is based on the idea that “the best way to become a skilled maker is to learn from one”.

Amy Marletta, Upland’s Projects Director, said:“It’s been really pleasing to watch this project progress and how Alex and the group of Modern Makers have worked together to develop design and hands-on skills.

“They have all really enjoyed being part of a team and learning about how a really high quality creative business works.

“It is particularly rewarding that they have been able to get insights about every stage in the process of costume making, and to have learned from a company that has a such a tremendous reputation for the quality of its work.”

Modern Makers 2018 is supported by The Holywood Trust and the William Grant Foundation.

  • Mary goes to St Joseph’s College, Dumfries, Hazel to Wallace High Academy, Fearn to Lockerbie Academy and Kirsten to Douglas Ewart HighSchool.


Notes for editors 

For more about the event at Mill on the Fleet see


About Oceanallover


  • The company was founded in 2002 and is known for its spectacular, often large scale, performance works.
  • Alex Rigg has been making live events since 1982. These have taken a number of forms and been shown in several different countries. He trained as an archaeological illustrator, drystone dyker, blacksmith, fine-artist, dancer, timber-framer and costume maker/designer.
  • Oceanallover has designed set, costumes and choreography for many other companies, including NVA, Theatre Cryptic, Theatre Babel, Nation, Al Seed, Ramesh Meyapaan and Process 10:28. He designs and builds green oak structures that are functional and sculptural, making use of traditional framing techniques.
  • Together with Trevor Leat, Alex designs and builds large willow structures, including The Wickerman for the Wickerman Music Festival in Galloway and pyrotechnic sculptures for Carlton Hill as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and for Jorvik Viking Centre, York.
  • See

About Upland

Upland CIC (Community Interest Company) supports artists and makers based in, and with connections to, the region. It will delivers, events, training, networking, support and opportunities as part of a year-round programme to benefit the region, its artists, communities and economy. Upland CIC runs the annual Spring Fling contemporary visual art and craft open studios weekend in Dumfries and Galloway. It will work closely with other arts bodies in the region to further-strengthen the sector. Upland is based at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries andexists to:

  • produce and deliver festivals, events, and experimental projects of the highest quality
  • nurture an environment where artistic excellence thrives and grows
  • inspire and educate a wide range of audiences, customers and clients to understand, celebrate, be actively engaged in and supportive of visual art and craft practice
  • raise the profile of visual artists and makers locally, nationally and internationally fulfilling a crucial role in the culture and tourism of Dumfries and Galloway
  • build strategic partnerships at regional, national and international level
  • maintain a financially sound and adaptively resilient organisation
  • use, and encourage the use of, innovative and emerging digital technology
  • work to the benefit the local economy and the sustainability of local communities.

Its funders are Creative Scotland, D&G Council, Holywood Trust, The William Grant Foundation, ASWT, Barfill.  

About Creative Scotland

  • Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  It enables people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  It distributes funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.
  • For further information about Creative Scotland please
  • Follow Creative Scotland @creativescots
  • Cash Back for Creativity is funded by the Scottish Government through the Cash Back for Communities programme which redistributes the proceeds of crime to benefit young people


Media information 

  • Upland is very happy to help journalists. Contact us and we can set up interviews, provide pictures and photo opportunities. In some circumstances we can offer ready-written copy.
  • For media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at call Upland on 01387 213 218.