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A photo of Orinoco from the Wombles costume on stage at the Performance Costume Show 2023, led by designer Biz Sutton

Biz Sutton, 2023 graduate of the BA (Hons) Performance Costume, and designer of the popular Wombles climate crisis project and ‘Orinoco’ costume at the 2023 Edinburgh College of Art Graduate Show, has been selected for the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design, receiving a £5,000 bursary and a design placement.

Her Graduate Show designs and costume ‘Orinoco’ also caught the attention of Wombles Operations Ltd., opening the door for Biz to work with the team bringing The Wombles to the stage.

As a recipient of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design, Biz will receive a £5,000 bursary and a design placement with an established producing organisation.

She will also exhibit alongside the 11 other recipients at the National Theatre, London from 13 November 2023, showcasing her work to the public and industry professionals.

Biz graduated from the BA (Hons) Performance Costume programme in 2023, capturing audiences at the 2023 Performance Costume Show and Graduate Show exhibition with her 'Orinoco' design. Her project imagines the Wombles '50 years on', having emerged from the underground on an environmental protest to reflect the critical climate crisis.

The Linbury Prize is the only nationwide prize for Stage Design in the UK, launching the careers of more than 200 young talented stage designers since its founding in 1987 by Lady Anya Sainsbury.

On being awarded the prize, Biz Sutton said: “After returning from one adventure in Tanzania I was utterly delighted to hear I’m going to embark on another as a 2023 Linbury prize recipient. This is beyond exciting, thank you so much Linbury.”

Working with Womble HQ

As well as being popular with visitors at the Graduate Show exhibition, Biz’s Orinoco costume also captured the attention of Wombles HQ.

After seeing Orinoco in the media, Biz was contacted by Wombles Operations Ltd., who invited her to exhibit the costume at the Wombles stand at Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) this October.

Biz has since been offered further work with the company, who have commissioned her in a costume design and making role to bring the Wombles to the stage.

Megan Baker, Programme Director for the BA (Hons) Performance Costume at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “Huge congratulations to Biz, this is fantastic news and wonderful that Linbury has recognised her boundless creativity and delightful inventiveness. We are also thrilled that Orinoco and his companions’ pioneering journey will continue to be celebrated and enjoyed far and wide with Wombles Operations Ltd, this is such a lovely, heart-warming story”

A photo of the Orinoco costume leaning against a tree, alongside someone wearing a costumer designed by another graduate, depicting a character from Chicken Run. Image: Neil Hanna

More about the Linbury Prize

The Linbury Prize is part of the National Theatre and The Linbury Trust’s commitment to supporting designers to develop a sustainable career in stage design.

Previous recipients of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design include Es Devlin in 1995 (Set Designer - Dear England, Set Designer - The Crucible), Peter Butler in 2021, who designed the set for the National Theatre’s schools touring production of Shut Up, I’m Dreaming, and 2019 winner Rose Revitt who designed the public installation of The Tree at the National Theatre.

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director at the National Theatre, said: “The Linbury Prize is such a unique celebration of emerging talent in the world of theatre design. The National Theatre hopes to open pathways for designers from all backgrounds by celebrating and supporting them in these early stages of their career. It is a great privilege to be able to support something that empowers emerging talent."

This year’s judging panel included award winning designers Georgia Lowe, Tom Piper, Jean-Marc Puissant and Rajha Shakiry. The competition was open to emerging designers with recent relevant degree qualifications or equivalent experience.

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