Last year was tough on everyone. The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, to say the least, and we have all felt the effects in one way or another. So, we are starting a conversation with Harry Boulton, co-founder of the Lost Bond Project, a performing arts platform based in England which aims to do just that, start a conversation about the mental health issues that young people face. Approaching the topic through creative mediums, the platform hopes to encourage their audience not to suffer in silence. Harry tells us about the project’s debut short film, Lost Bond, co-written and co-directed by him, Gabriel Goss and Jude Wakeley, which is a conceptual piece about the dual nature and potential darkness of mental health as well as their fashion collection that is in the pipeline. Behind the many different ventures of the project lies the same message: it’s important to speak up about what you’re going through.
Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m the co-founder of the Lost Bond Project. I am a 19 year old fashion designer and mental health speaker from London. For the last year, I have been doing commission work in and around London, whilst doing talks in schools in England on the topic of mental health. I am now based in Paris, where I am studying and continuing to do commission work on the side. Gabriel Goss and Jude Wakeley also run the project with me. Gabriel is a professional rugby player and commission photographer and Jude is an artist based in London.
How did the Lost Bond project came about?
The Lost Bond project came about 2 years ago. The three of us have all faced mental health episodes, so the project holds very dear to us. It is a means for change. We were not satisfied with the way youth mental health issues were being addressed and the fact that young people didn’t have platforms specifically for them to identify with, particularly concerning mental health.
Congratulations on the release of your debut short film, Lost Bond! What inspired it? And what is the connection between the project and the short film?
The film derives from personal experience, really, our own struggles with mental health. Especially with shared experiences amongst those involved in the project, inspiration and insights into the film were a constant, as we filmed it in 2020. The project and the film go hand in hand. The short film is thus far the best representation of our message and goals: that it is time to start a conversation.
The film is brilliant in its portrayal of mental health struggles as both collective and individual. How important was it for you to emphasise this?
A problem shared is a problem halved. Community and unity are embedded in our DNA at Lost Bond. Collectively and individually, it is essential that we converse with one another. In whatever shape or form, it gives you a sense of security. We wanted to build on this, so we can indeed show that there is power in identifying our problems and speaking out against them.
Why do you think the performing arts is a good way to talk about mental health?
Again, as creatives we feel that by creating tangible, physical art in whatever medium it stems from, we can feel a lot better. The performing arts have the ability to touch you on a completely different level than words at times. The way youth mental health issues were addressed at school did not sit well with us. Approaching the subject through different mediums gives different insights into youth mental health, not to just think that words are the only tool we can use.
The message of the film is clear and lasting – that we need to break down the stigma around talking about mental health. What else would you like people to take away from it?
Our main aim for the film was promote the strength of imagination and the power of talking openly with each other. Although it is difficult at first, you find strength in doing so. With art, like the topic of mental health, there is not one answer. There are many paths you can take. Many which we overlook or have not approached yet. We want our audience to understand that there is not a set way to approach your problems. That conversing is the start, but there are countless coping mechanisms.
Apart from the message, the atmosphere you’ve created in the film through music, visuals and lighting is impressive. How did you approach these stylistic decisions?
The conceptual imagery we have used throughout encourages the audience to use their imagination as to what they want to take out of the film. The idea is mixing our everyday experiences with concepts that we do not want to believe or see at times. We particularly wanted to expose this: the unapologetic truth behind the topic.
What about on the other side of the camera, what was the atmosphere like on set?
For a film that is deliberately very hard hitting, the atmosphere on set was a lot of fun. Every set day there was a lot of running around, getting everything last minute, but always a lot of fun. We collaborated with many different people on the film, so everyday was different, just bouncing ideas off each other, hitching rides to different locations to shoot, calling in favours, shoot days were never short of surprises.
The ‘silent killer’ figure represents the ‘darkness’ that can stem from burying mental health issues instead of talking about them, correct me if I’m wrong. Why did you choose to represent this physically? And how did you go about creating its appearance?
We wanted to illustrate mental health as a physical figure, in order for the audience to understand his movements more. With him lurking in the shadows of the scenes, we could show that he is omnipresent in our lives through the good times and the bad. His appearance really came about through our idea of what anxiety and depression can look like, not a scary monster, but more of a towering shadow. Not always at the forefront of our minds, but always somewhere to be seen. The long silhouettes of his dress in the film, allowed us to expose his shadows and figure.
You’re also releasing a unisex fashion collection which is linked to the ideas of conflict, confusion and cognition. Could you expand on the meaning behind this theme and what the collection will look like?
The collection takes you from the beginning to ending of a young person’s mental health journey. I designed the collection in the first lockdown to resonate with the current times we were facing. The collection explores the diagnosis of a mental health issue, the confusion of not knowing which direction to move towards, but ends with self and mental acceptance. You do not wake up one day rid of your anxiety, but you learn ways to accept and understand it. The collection begins with fine cuts, high necklines and a dark colour palette before moving to larger silhouettes and brighter colours. Fabric manipulation and feel are an important element of the collection.
It’s also important to note that the collection appeals to a mental sustainability as well as the physical. Many small business have struggled this pandemic, particularly in the fashion field. We sourced all fabric for the collection from dead stock warehouses around London in order to help small businesses. A note of appreciation regarding the collection must go to the amazing Yasue and Yumi Carter, two ladies who I have the upmost admiration for. They are the most hard working. Yumi encouraged me 2 years ago to make the film and Yasue the collection. We do not give production companies and pattern cutters the recognition they deserve in this industry. It is known they are crucial to the process, but little is said in media about there hard work, skills and time they put into each garment. I am extremely happy to have been able to work for and beside them both.
Apart from film and fashion, what other kind of projects can we expect to see from Lost Bond and what does the future look like for the platform?
We also run an IGTV series called Speakeasy, which we set up during the first lockdown. The series aims to build discussion and understanding around youth mental health, as young people share their stories. Following this, we have spoken on podcasts, radio stations and schools relaying the message that it is time to start a conversation.
Covid has taught us to not think too far into the future and to focus on the present, an important message regarding youth mental health. Yet, we have a lot in store for 2021. Many more collaborations with young people and companies across the industry will be announced soon, along with a series of short films, expected to be released this summer.
Harry Boulton Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Harry Boulton Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Harry Boulton Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Img 2336.jpg
Harry Boulton Metalmagazine 1.jpg
Harry Boulton Metalmagazine 2.jpg