Tuesday, 4 December 2012

November Part 2

Onto the second half of the month, which involved less travelling but was no less busy, and I had to do quite a bit of plate-spinning (not literally).

3: November 20th & 27th: a feast of illustration

Over the past 10 weeks I've been travelling to Cambridge every Tuesday, to teach the Illustration for Picture Books course at Hills Road Sixth form college. Our final session for the term was last week; it has been great fun. 

A few examples of the students' work
Everyone said a bit about their work, and I was bowled over by the quality and range of what they had made, from hand-made books, to CD sleeves and artwork, to finished stories and experimental pop-up cards. A seriously industrious and creative bunch of people. I'm looking forward to running the next one (if you are in the Cambridge area and interested in joining the course, details can be found here).

Custom-made bunting by the students on the Illustration for Picture Books course!

4. November 20 - 29th: Pigs flying and fluttering paper

I was asked by JaneJaney and the Drama Centre London to create a series of short animations for their production of Bertolt Brecht's 'The Good Soul of Szechuan'. Here's one of them - a troupe of flying pigs, to accompany one of the songs;

It was played out in a disused library, so the set was deliberately ramshackle, built up from heaps of old discarded books and scaffolding, and the animations were projected onto a slipshod screen at the back of the stage.

I'd never heard of this play before, so other than what had been conveyed to me in the brief, I had little idea of what to expect when I went to see it. It was a real melting pot, with comedy, music, dancing and projection; and had a very contemporary feel, particularly in the library set, partly a reference to current funding cuts to the arts. It was all done in an original, funny and beautiful way.

The lead character, the 'Good Soul', Shen Teh, receives a tobacco shop as a reward from the gods. But people quickly start to take advantage of her, so she disguises herself as a man, Shui Ta, in order to keep her business  alive. I had to create a short animation of her transformation. 

November is always cold and dark, but this seems to have been an especially cold month to me. In a way, that makes it the perfect time to be creative. It has been good to work at my desk by the window, daydreaming, drawing and moving bits of paper around under the rostrum camera, watching the rain hammer down on the other side of the glass. Now we're in December, the sun's a bit brighter but I'm happy to say there's no sign of things slowing down.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A lot can happen in a month

I've been doing lots of exciting things since I finished the MA and BLINC, but sometimes when people ask you what you've been up to, the pressure of gathering up all the information into a quick synopsis is just too much and I just end up spitting out the same old 'ah, well, you know, this and that, ticking over etc...'; that's when eyes start to glaze over, attention drifts, or you get caught on another subject entirely (not always such a bad thing). 

So, for the record, and courtesy of my diary*, here are a few snapshots of my life over the past month.

1: November 8 - 11th: To Manchester, for the Universal Ear...

Almost straight after BLINC, I went to Manchester to build props and sets and general 'things' for Graeme Cole, creator of/evil genius behind the UNIVERSAL EAR, at the Nexus Art Cafe.

The Universal Ear is a serial, filmed entirely on a Super 8 camera, following postman-hero Harley Byrne as he travels through space and time attempting to capture all the world's music ever. For 'Banned Insubstance', he travels to Greece in the distant future, and takes part in the Olympid games.

Evil Genius
Paper grass
A V.I.P (very important prop)
I made a bed of grass, Olympic medals, a barbell and lots more out of paper, tin foil and cardboard, drank a lot of tea and ate biscuits. It was tough, but luckily I had some kindly volunteers and the aforementioned evil genius on hand to offer help.

2. November 12 - 18th: Diving Belles and Christmas cards...

I helped my friend Sara Fernee on a very exciting scheme that she has been brewing for a long time, involving swimming pools, projectors and divers. Four of us spent an evening being photographed and filmed, diving and swimming underwater in a pool in Brighton. That's as much as I can reveal now, but it's sure to be exciting as Sara's head is forever turning over and forming wonderful ideas. 

Next I was asked by my dear Padre to design some Christmas cards. Here are a couple. 

Rudolph breaks down

Mostyn in Llandudno are also selling my Christmas cards and wrapping paper at the moment. And if you'd like to buy any wrapping paper directly from me, please get in touch. 

Wrapping paper
I think that's enough for now, that's one half of November on record and just about digestible. There's the whole second half to talk about next so I don't want to peak too soon...stick with one course etc...(insert jokes about being full up, squeezing more in, loosening belt buckle etc here)! 

*Thank you, dear diary; without you, my life would be as clear as an exploded pizza.