Yasmina Black – BlueBow


For clever costume designer/creator, Jasmina Black, there wasn’t a hint of her future fanciful thread-full forays as a child. In fact she was an outdoorsy tree climbing, bmx riding, trampoline jumping kid that put on a pair of shorts and tshirt, a navy cap and a pair of thongs or sneakers and fled the house as quickly as possible. There was the particular attention she paid to her shorts and tees matching, but no sign of a different edge. Not then.

As for adulthood, shall we say Yasmina certainly bloomed, blossomed, even flowered into something very surprising. On the brink of her very first exhibition of millinery and costumes, the designer and maker from BlueBow shares her unique take.


Yasmina Black performing at Underbelly Arts Festival

Yasmina Black at Underbelly Arts Festival

I read that you started out “making costumes and wearing them in little tableaux with a collective of artists, in night clubs, art galleries and at the odd festival.” How did this come more serious and evolve into an exhibition?
I guess the tableaux and little tea party performances I was doing become more serious because I took them seriously. I made the effort to create a new look, a new wig, make a new costume and I did this each opportunity I had. By doing this I gathered a body of work and it was photographed. Really, if artist Penelope Benton, and later Alex and Penelope, had not invited me to join in their dressup world I would not have all these wigs and costumes to exhibit.

As they become more successful the venues become fancier, but no matter where they were I took them seriously and made an effort to look the best I could with the time and funds I had.

Who do you most enjoy working with and creating costumes for?
I enjoy working with Penelope Benton and Alex Clapman in their performance artworks, but usually I create my own costume and wear it. It was a collaboration in as much as they invited me to work with them, usually giving me a colour theme, and I made whatever I liked, and wore it. The performance at the National Gallery was the exception, Penelope had more of an influence, and I had to work within the context of the event, the opening of the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit, but the wig design was up to me. I made three wigs and wore one. At this point, I like to make and wear my own costumes.

Performance installation Non-structural pine, MDF, stickers, lollies Wigs designed and created by Jasmina Black

Performance Art “Seeing Dots” at The National Gallery – Photo: Lyn Mills (Canberra Times)

What are the challenges to your creative art form?
Each new wig or costume I make is a little challenge, as I decipher how best to make it, and decide if it works each stage of the process. That is kind of why I like making things really. I like to learn. Funds are always a challenge; making things is expensive. But my greatest challenge in putting together this exhibition has been my nerves. I have been having anxious sleepless nights leading up to this for months. As it edges closer I am laying awake night after night. It’s so silly, very unhelpful, and the one challenge I don’t seem to be able to master.

What is the inspiration behind your hats, wigs and costumes?
I don’t always know where ideas come from. I have ideas floating around my head, I draw them to refine the design, and make them. Again, I wish I could reel out a list of eras and artists I am inspired by, but inspiration seems to come from everywhere and anywhere.

But I guess I have been inspired by Fellini films, early last century, the rococo era, Elizabethan times…. inspiration changes and differs from one moment to the next.

Yasmina Black & Marni Jackson - photo by Andrew Haining

Yasmina Black & Penelope Benton in “I Want Candy” Campbeltown Arts Centre, photographed by Alexandra Clapham

If you could band with any one designer or artist, of any kind, who would you choose and what would you create?
Gosh, I don’t know. My world is quite small. I live alone and sew and make things most days. I don’t really know much about what other people are doing and making. I like the way Penelope and Alex sometimes get me involved the their work, and I like the way they allow me creative control of what I do.

I do like the idea of working together with a photographer, creating dreamy images using bits and pieces of my costumes and headpieces; or even a snippet of film…

Each piece I make, to me, has a little story or some kind of theme or look I am trying to create, it would be nice to expand on that idea with a photographer. Instead of being a costume at a table, as I am in the tableaux, creating a whole set and photographing it. I have done a little of that kind of work and I really enjoyed it. Or if a photographer were to have an idea of their own that I could help to create, I like to do that kind of collaboration too.

Kira Hula-la is BlueBow poster girl

Kira Hula-la is BlueBow poster girl

BlueBow Exhibition
Opening Wednesday 13 August 6-8PM
Exhibition 14 – 17 August 12-5PM
107 Projects Gallery
107 Redfern St, Redfern, 2016

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