Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Illusionist

Last weekend I went to see The Illusionist at the Cornerhouse; I was reallly excited about this film by French director Sylvain Chomet as I am a big fan of his previous film Belleville Rendezvous. The Illusionist was completely different to the first film; it had a very melancholy feel to it and had more of a serious edge to it. I thought it was absolutely beautiful, the animation was perfect; the exaggerated characters and the soft palette of colours worked so well to create something that was charming and just lovely. It was so good to see hand drawn animation that had real character to it rather than digitally produced characters that are perfect and hollow. It gave me some hope for my own career and style of work which has so many handmade elements.

Screen capture from Pathe International.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tatton Park Biennial

Last weekend I went to Tatton park for the 2010 biennial which was an absolute treat. There were about 25 pieces spread out across the gardens and house; it was so exciting to see the pieces so out of context, it was really strange to see contemporary installations and sculptures inside a stately home or elaborate garden and that really added charm to the exhibition. My favourite piece by far was the feather sculpture/installation 'Evacuate' by Kate MccGwire which was a huge piece spilling out of a range, made of feathers of birds that would have once been cooked on the giant stove.

Picture taken from

I also loved Marcia Farquhar's giant rocking horse sculpture:

Jem Finer's 'Spiegelei' a giant silver ball on top of a wooden shed which was actually a camera obscura projecting the upside-down shadow of the Japanese gardens around the inside of the ball.

and Helen Marten's 'Coveting Keratin' and 'Milk on white', a huge truncated sculpture of a lion and a billboard.

photo also taken from

A lot of the pieces had links and themes relating back to Lord Egerton and his family, the last of the Egerton family who owned Tatton Hall. I was really impressed by the range of pieces and the intriguing layout of the exhibition.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Surreal House

This week I went to London to visit ContainerPlus (post to come on illustration blog) while I was in London with my mum we decided to visit the Surreal House exhibition at the Barbican. I've never been to the Barbican before and I was quite surprised by the area and the building itself as they were all pretty ugly, very 1970s, tall blocks of flats. However the inside of the Barbican was lovely and there was a giant courtyard with fountains/lots of water and giant reeds and plants which would be a great thing to look out onto!

The exhibition itself was fantastic, there were so many pieces by artists that I've been looking at or influenced by during my final year so it was quite a thrill to see the pieces up close, in particular the boxes by Joseph Cornell and a small sample of his collection of photographs and images etc which made up his extensive studio. I managed to watch the whole of Jan Swankmajer's 'The Jabberwocky' which was fascinating, I had only seen a fraction of it when I'd researched him in the past and the full film is amazing, there is so much detail, I was in awe of it all. I also watched a film by Maya Deren called 'Meshes of the Afternoon' which was really unusual but very enjoyable following a sort of surrealist dream of a woman repeating the same action of entering her home after chasing a mirror-faced figure, each time she looked around her home objects had moved or were changing in front of her eyes. Some of my favourite pieces were ceramic sculptures by Rachel Kneebone which were a mass of objects and figures all merged into 1 glossy white web, they were so detailed and beautiful I would have liked longer to have studied them properly as there was so much to see.

Rachel Kneebone sculpture 'In the midst of quietness, branched thoughts murmur' image from

Jan Swankmajer 'The Jabberwocky' from youtube

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

'Seasons' - Yuri Norstein

Another fantastic animation on Sky Arts, 'Seasons' by Yuri Norstein was made in 1969, it's a stop frame animation made using Russian lace and toys showing 2 figures moving through different seasons to Tchaikovsky's music. It's a really beautiful piece, the figures move very gracefully through the landscape and the landscape itself looks as though it is made up of delicate glass and jewels. The toys switch from being completely motion less to moving in quite a human way which is quite eerie looking but adds to the beauty of it being like a dream world. I love the layering of the setting, the rows of trees and houses and the other figures all motionless in the streets of the little world.

Video from

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lotte Reiniger - 'The Magic Horse'

Today I watched a beautiful animation from 1954 called 'The Magic Horse' by Lotte Reiniger; the animation was all black and white made using silhouettes which was the way that Lotte Reiniger made the majority of her animations. I loved the title as it was so delicate and the shapes, text and music were perfect for setting the scene of the story. I thought the backgrounds of each scene were fantastic, they were really simple pale grey painted buildings and trees but the silhouettes stood out really well overlaid onto them. This was a lovely piece to watch and really inspiring, I've always been interested in using silhouettes as I've seen them used in plays and other projects (some by Containerplus for Topshop) and I think they look amazing because they're so delicate and fragile looking.

The magic horse LOTTE REINIGER
Uploaded by BFIfilms. - Arts and animation videos.

courtesy of

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Methane Studios

I've just been looking at some gorgeous work by Methane Studios, I found a link to their work on a Total Film email and I love it, they're an illustration/design studio that mainly produces posters and t shirts. All of the designs are very distinctive, a lot are quite similar in style to some of the posters from the Post(er) exhibition (earlier post) - they have a 60s/70s feel to them in the colours and some of the text which is something that I really like. All of the posters and prints are screen printed which I'm so jealous of as I really want to use screen print more but I'm pretty convinced I'd have trouble producing anything more complex than one colour; I think this is definitely something that I need to practise before I leave, I just wish I had more time.

Primary fun! Part 2

So last Thursday Emily and I went down to the primary school in Whalley Range again, we were in for the whole day for this session and we finally got to do some creative work with the kids. We had the task of making papier mache (I am now a pro, see illustration blog) animals which are to be used during a classroom party in May as decoration. Luckily Emily and I decided to construct the basic shapes of the animals first using balloons and newspaper, I can't even imagine how long it would have taken otherwise. It was really fun though and the kids really loved the messy part with all the glue and newspaper strips although I'm a bit concerned about my communication skills as some of them still didn't understand what to do after several demonstrations..all in all though it was a very successful day and the animals look really good, I just can't wait to see what they look like after this Thursday when we're helping them paint them. I also tried to do some basic printing using sponges and potatoes to create some patterned paper to use for more decoration however this proved to be a more difficult task and wasn't quite as much of a success. I really loved working with the children though, they're enthusiasm and imagination is really inspiring.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Primary fun!

Over the next few weeks I'm doing some work with Creative Partnerships in a primary school in Whalley Range. I'm working with an artist/illustrator Anthony Smith who does all of the illustrations at Chester Zoo and with my flatmate Emily (from Interactive Arts). The project is helping the children to illustrate some stories about animals. Today was the first day, we just had a bit of chat with the children and looked at their basic drawing skills and discussed plans for the next 2 weeks. I had such a funny time, children have the most amazing imaginations! One of the stories was a version of 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' but with Pinky the flamingo as the main character fighting it out with a crocodile over a pair of pink high heeled shoes; the story ends with a hippo (I think) flying around in a helicopter dropping money everywhere. I'm really excited about working with these children and their stories and they all seem so enthusiastic which is excellent. Emily and I are doing some papier mache animals with them next week and then the week after we're painting the animals, making masks and making decorations for an animal themed party in May. I think it's going to be such a great experience having to actually be responsible for something other than myself and having to instruct and manage the children to work to such a short deadline.

Hopefully next week I'll get some photos of the work! I'm desperate for the picture of a penguin with a bob that one child drew, just fantastic.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Terry Gilliam

This week I watched a couple of Terry Gilliam films, I've never really seen anything by him but I've been told many times that I would like his films so I watched 'The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen' and 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus'.

I've always been a big fan of adventure films, especially anything quite surreal or unusual, I really love the idea of fantasy worlds and the escapism that goes along with this so I really loved Baron Munchhausen, you can really see how vast Gilliam's imagination is when you see the extent of detail in the different locations of the film. I thought the sets were amazing, in particular the theatre scenery in the opening scenes which was made up of a series of flat sections that folded in and out to create movement and the suggestion of perspective etc. I also loved the scenes on the moon which were also made up of flat scenery which moved sideways and forwards to create a city. It was really refreshing to see a film with so many impossible looking scenes being made without the use of CGI and it made me feel that a lot more is possible for me to create within my work by hand. I really like the idea of constructing sets that move in quite a simple way but the mechanics of the movements would also be beautiful enough to be visible; this is something I'd love to try in an animation or film.

Dr. Parnassus was also a really wonderful film, I didn't like some aspects of the animation in the imaginarium scenes but it would obviously make sense to use more current technology but I still prefer more traditional animation methods. I thought the combination of modern day with the old-fashioned set worked perfectly and the transformation to a modern set was really beautiful. Again there were some fantastic sets and costumes which were really inspiring.

I was impressed with both films as although they are quite weird and strange they never became silly and everything seemed necessary to the story which I really admired, I would imagine that making such unusual films could lead to adding in crazy characters and scenarios just for the sake of being weird but this didn't seem to happen.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


I went to the Post(er) exhibition last week at Rogue Studios (possibly the most hidden away gallery space I've ever experienced, I would never find it again alone), I had mixed feelings about the exhibition, some of the work by Rob Bailey and Nick Rhodes was really inspiring (see my faves in images below) I really loved the screen prints and it made me want to try doing some of my own, I have a massive fear of the screen print area though so I need to overcome that. The rest of the pieces were a bit mediocre and a lot of very similar prints were placed around the room so after about 15 minutes there wasn't much else to see. The space itself was also a bit of a let down, the exhibition looked a bit haphazard and didn't look as though a lot of thought had been put into the curation. It was worth a visit though for the work that I did like but I don't think I'd ever be able to find the place again to go back..

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Prague - House of the Black Madonna

This was a really interesting collection of Czech Cubist work displayed in the House of the Black Madonna; a Cubist building designed by Josef Gocar. The last memories that I have of Cubist work are from my GCSE's being told to copy Picasso and Georges Braque so it was refreshing to see some Cubism away from high school. I found myself much more interested in the metal work and furniture in the exhibition; the paintings just sort of passed by without much interest. I really liked the sculpture work by Otto Gutfreund (below) I found the hollow eyes and cheeks of his faces fascinating and I was in awe of the way that he had turned a piece of metal into something with so much character.

The few pieces of furniture that were dotted around the 3 floors were wonderful, I loved the severe shapes and angles that were applied to such mundane things as dressing tables - it was really beautiful design. The top 2 floors were probably the most compelling, they housed more simple graphic drawings of architectural plans and some of the detailed drawings that were used to plan out the Cubist paintings. It made me appreciate the precision and the organisation of the paintings whereas before I think I just dismissed them as distortion without any real thought. The collection also contained a number of African masks which seemed to be out of place but were fantastic, it made me want to look into more tribal and cultural based art work, maybe during my next project.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Francisco Goya

I managed to see the Francisco Goya exhibition 'Fantasies, Follies and Disasters' at Manchester Gallery recently before it ended and that was fantastic. I was disappointed with the size of the exhibition as I expected it to be much bigger considering it was advertised so much but it was still excellent.

I think I was really excited by the etchings because the content was so creepy and grotesque. I loved all of the scenes of cloaked figures looming over people and the dark shadowy creatures lurking in the background as though they were part of the victim's imagination. I really loved the detail applied to the creatures and the expressions on the human faces, there was real horror captured in the images. I preferred the more mythical/fantasy based images rather than the pure torture and war atrocities but it was all really amazing.

I was also really impressed with the Chapman Brothers piece 'Disasters of War' which was based on the Francisco Goya etchings. I've always been quite skeptical of the Chapman brothers work as it always seems a bit too disgusting, too much shock value for my liking but this piece was really fascinating. The artists depicted scenes from the etchings in tiny figurines, similar in a way to toy soldiers, at first glance it looks like a collection of any small figures but on closer inspection you can pick out the specific details from the etchings and it was really interesting to look at as there were so many details.

Alan Fletcher

I visited the Alan Fletcher exhibition at Cube Gallery a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't really sure what to expect as I'd forgotten everything I ever knew about Alan Fletcher but I found his work so inspiring!

I loved the simplicity of his work the most, it was the kind of work that you look at and think that anyone could do it but when you look closer you realise how much thought and attention has been put into everything. I think a good example of this would be the calendars: 3 different themes (weather, events and horoscopes) all of the imagery was made up of simple shapes in block colours but they were really fun to look at and had such a strong aesthetic - straightforward but without losing any charm. A lot of the London Underground posters had the same style, very loose and illustrative but really simple.

An image from one of the calendars (Aries)

My two favourite pieces were the Pirelli slipper holders - illustrated dogs that folded out into stands with a gap in the mouth of the dog to hold a pair of slippers. Again this is a great example of a simple idea with a clever thought behind it. Everything to look at makes you think 'why didn't I think of that?' sort of the obvious idea because it's so uncomplicated. I also loved the 3D monster characters that Fletcher had made for his grandson, originally meant to be something to play with but he thought they were too precious and kept them for himself. I could relate to this work after making so many 3D pieces out of papier mache for my personal project; I liked the fact that he used such childlike working methods, his sketchbooks that were placed next to the models had the same aesthetic, very free and experimental which is the way that I've been finding myself working.

The monster/character models

Pirelli dogs (image from Maxim's photos Flickr)


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Monday, 25 January 2010

Update required

I'm getting lazy with my blog but in the meantime while I'm planning my posts why don't YOU look at my behance page!