Sarah Brumfitt, one of our NADFAS (National Federation of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) volunteers who works on the museums’ costume collection, provided a real treat recently when she agreed to bring in some of her own work for us to see. Like so many of our volunteers, Sarah has a fascinating background, bringing with her, when she works at the Museum, huge experience, great skills, and, in her case, a wonderful artistic talent.
“I was born in an air-raid, in London” she tells us. Having survived that, she went on to study at, amongst other places, Hammersmith Art College and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. In 1964 she ended up at the Sheffield Playhouse (now the Crucible Theatre) as a costume designer. She remembers “lots of big plays” but especially ‘Oedipus’, and Alan Cullen’s ‘Ring o’ Roses’ about the Eyam plague tragedy. Sarah noted that this latter story possibly had Salisbury connections in that the vicar of Eyam, famous for persuading his fellow villagers to agree to cut themselves off from the rest of the countryside when they knew that the plague infection was amongst them, was a Mompesson.
Sarah went on to work as a freelance properties and mask designer/maker, at places like the Royal Opera House, with the Scottish Ballet, and the Welsh Opera and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She worked with Tanya Moiseiwitsch, famous theatre designer, and with director Colin George (who died earlier this year). When asked how she would decide what a mask should look like (“Where do you start?”) Sarah explained that the director would say he/she wanted to do the play in this or that way and Sarah’s job was then to interpret this.
PAINTINGS BY SARAH BRUMFITT (NEE MORTON)
Needless to say, Sarah works with our costume archive. We look forward to hearing more from Sarah at a later date.