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Visual FX – Ben Toogood

I graduated from my first course Falmouth School of Art nearly thirty years ago. It was a unique course which evolved during its four-year duration. The course introduced us to a wide variety of media for conveying information including video & animation. Consequently, quite a few of the GID’s, as we are collectively known, pursued a career either in CGI or character animation. A few, including my nearest and dearest, went on to perfect their skills at Bournemouth and subsequently rubbed shoulders with the Aardman team. So when I heard  Ben Toogood was to give a lecture on Visual FX, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to slip into the magnificently lit Chapel lecture theatre to listen.

Ben’s career so far has also given him the opportunity to work with Weta and MPC. As a result, his work can be seen in some amazing films including Superman Returns; King Kong; Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and a couple of  Harry Potter films

Now Head of 3D for the Aardman Animations CGI department, his current work is varied. Which he elaborated upon in his lecture. Budget, safety, quality and just achieving the impossible are at the root of much of Aardman’s current FX work. The CGI department’s specialism is lighting/rendering processes and technologies for TV dramas, commercials and films. A bulk of their work also involves creating environments, crowds and even digital doubles.

Ben’s informative and well-structured lecture delivered some constructive advice on how FX is used throughout the industry. It also introduced the current batch of animation students to the possibilities of work outside the realm of character driven animation. Food for thought for any inspiring animators.

Cypher Exhibition – Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

Like buses, private views seem to come all at the same time in Cornwall, so, unfortunately, I missed the opening night of the Cypher Exhibition. However, undeterred by yet another dull Sunday we ambled over to Mounts Bay to be greeted by some rare winter sunshine and bold colourful works of art.

Assembled from the work of the 2017 students on the year-long Professional Practice Course at the Newlyn School of Art, the ground floor exhibition at the Tremenheere Gallery showcases their finished artworks. Some take the form of installation art, others are drawings, paintings, photography and collaborative works.  However, the real treat can be found upstairs, where you are invited to flick through piles of sketchbooks and portfolios to admire all the contributory study which has produced such a variety of work.

An average of fifteen participants joins the Professional Practice mentoring course which runs twice a year. The unique programme aims to encourage artists to achieve a stronger sense of their own artistic voice and energise their artistic practice.

Tutored by some renowned artists within  Newlyn School of Art, students rub shoulders with professional artists who share their working practices and passion for art. Course Leaders Jesse Leroy Smith and Gareth Edwards, are amongst the staff who provide a high level of tutoring time to the students, which is reflected in their body of work.

The exhibition on runs until the 4th Feb, so catch it while you can if you are anywhere near the Penzance area.

 

Andrew Lanyon – Nature’s Laboratory: A Fantasy

Once again Falmouth Art Gallery has played host to an engaging exhibition which asks you to question and open your minds.

Nature’s Laboratory: A Fantasy, which will run until mid-March 2018 offers the visitor the chance to ‘immerse ourselves in the tale of Nature’.  Andrew Lanyon’s own work features in this thought-provoking exhibition along with a collective of Cornish artists.

I was lucky enough to attend a short talk by Andrew as the exhibition was being hung in the next gallery. He enlighted us in the processes which help him invent. The use of senses to invent a narrative, in particular, sounds to inspire lyrics.

Andrew Lanyon studied at the London School of Film Technique and spent several years as a freelance photographer. He ventured into book production to accompany his touring exhibitions, The Rooks of Trelawne and The Vanishing Cabinet.  

Andrew has also written highly acclaimed books on his father the painter Peter Lanyon, Alfred Wallis and other painters, sculptors, writers and poets.

Mythogeography – a guide to walking sideways

It was an absolute delight to secure a place on the ‘Lunch Break Artists Special’ at Porthmeor studios with Phil Smith. And a delight to join his ‘Mis-Guided Wander in St. Ives’ in the afternoon.

Never heard of Mythogeography before?
Well, don’t feel embarrassed, neither had I until Phil’s talk on the subject.

Mythogeography describes a way of thinking about and visiting places where multiple meanings have been squeezed into a single and restricted meaning (for example, heritage, tourist or leisure sites tend to be presented as just that, when they may also have been homes, jam factories, battlegrounds, lovers’ lanes, farms, cemeteries and madhouses). 

Mythogeography emphasises the multiple nature of places and suggests multiple ways of celebrating, expressing and weaving those places and their multiple meanings.

According to Phil there is always more than one story to any place. There are a multiplicity of objects and environments around surrounding us which generally remain unnoticed unless you are prepared to look more closely. Paying extreme attention to everyday textures and their relationships highlights the creativity of nature in a landscape or urban environment and forms its own narrative. It’s walking with a whole different perspective. Letting your mind wander is essential and creating narratives from what you discover is imperative.

On our wet and windy walk around St Ives, we found many quirky, normally unnoticed objects.  We took our time to closely observe them taking great delight in discussing their relevance, beauty and raison d’être.

I don’t think a simple walk will ever be the same again!

Donna Haraway – Story Telling For Earthly Survival

Donna Haraway on a Thursday night, what a treat!

Organised by the MA Authorial Illustration course, and shown on the Woodlane Campus, Fabrizio Terranova’s portrait of Donna Haraway was enlightening and engaging.

Donna Haraway is renowned for her groundbreaking work in science, technology, gender and trans-species relationships. Her work spans four decades and resonates with a deep commitment to feminism and environmentalism.

Her work proposed many new ways of understanding our world that challenges normative structures and boundaries, refusing to distinguish between humans and animals and machines. As a result, her unique theories kicked off many debates in areas as diverse as primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology.

Donna Haraway’s most renowned work Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s, contributed greatly to feminist narratives of the twentieth century.

Fabrizio Terranova,  a filmmaker, activist and teacher in Brussels spent a few weeks filming Haraway in their Southern California home and the resulting film Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival is an appropriately eccentric response to a truly original thinker.

 

Kernewek for businesses – why it makes sense

I attended this skills day out of curiosity, with an ambition to incorporate Kernewek, the Cornish language, into my work as a writer.

Heavily biased towards promoting the use of this unique language through marketing of existing products and businesses, the session was informative and engaging.

St Austell Brewery, represented by Chris Knight, was the perfect case study to highlight how this Southwestern Brittonic Celtic language can be put to good use. A prime example is one of the breweries best-selling beers Korev, which means ‘Beer’ in Cornish.

Our professional guide for the morning was Mark Trevethan, the Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall Council, who further enlightened us to the possibilities of using Kernewek. He showcased innovative uses of the language from road signs to prime time TV advertising.

Closer to home, Mark opened the door to integration by gently guiding us towards the various resources on offer. More importantly, he highlighted that incorporation of the Cornish language into the marketing strategy of Cornish businesses, will also hopefully benefit the wider Cornish Language agenda.

This well-organised event was delivered by Cornwall 365 at the well known creative hub, Krowji, in partnership with Cultivator and supported by the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.

Shades of California – travels in Portugal

TRAVEL BLOG

I recently ventured to Portugal on a work trip. It was the first time I had revisited the country since a child, and my memories were limited to the acrid smell of drying sardines, long sunbaked road trips and my mother having her bottom pinched.

This time my travels in João Rodrigues Cabrilho’s country of origin took me through densely planted eucalyptus and umbrella pine forests towards an overnight stop near the village of Santa Cruz.

No doubt named a long time before the Californian coastline town, the heat and the flora were remarkably similar. Even the ocean, which I had been desperate to escape into after a hot dusty drive, was shrouded in the fog which often hugs its Pacific counterpart.

The next day the similarities to the sunshine state continued. Comporta, on the edge of  ‘Portugals best secret beach spot’, resembled a deserted Mexican style Hollywood stage set, complete with storks, nesting high on telephone poles and church bell towers.

To enter the bustling metropolis of Lisbon, I was transported over the water on a slightly flimsier version of the sunshine state’s jewel in the crown, the golden gate bridge, only to be faced with a swarm of brightly coloured vintage trams as I negotiated a pathway through the narrow streets to meet friends for lunch.

Thankfully, my new memories of the country are of the coastline which so resembles one of my favourite destinations in America, the overwhelming beauty of the tile-clad buildings and the refreshing taste of Vino Verde.

In Dark Places – the launch

Unfortunately, I was in Yorkshire and couldn’t attend the launch of the book I have recently project managed with Wyl Menmuir. The fireside event to publicise its release was hosted at the South West Outdoor Festival on September 9th. Reasonably well attended, the launch was a success and some of my team published a great write up of their weekend…

…A small group of students and tutors from Falmouth University headed for the rocky hills of Cheddar Gorge, to the South West Outdoor Festival, for the final push of a year-long publishing project in collaboration with Wyl Menmuir and The National Trust.

Our first task was setting up the banner for the book launch. A few giggles escaped our puzzled faces as we battled the raging wind, which threatened the stability of our tent. It took us a while, but with patience and strategically tied ropes, we finally secured the banner in place. Job done for the night, we snuggled up in our sleeping bags ready for the launch the following day.

After coffee and breakfast, and we were on the move, taking turns manning the book tent, spreading the word about our fireside ghost story reading that night, and worrying whether the rain would ruin our lovely evening or not. But the weather kept with us, and not long after seven, the fireside was packed.
Against a beautiful display of the sun seeping into the hills, Wyl read out an excerpt from  In Dark Places. Adults and children alike were drawn in by his lively reading, and the story came to life before our eyes, animating the flames.

by Holly Cara Farr and Adriana Ciontea

 

The final show – Authorial Practice

ART BLOG

Last night saw the end of the academic year for the MA Authorial Practice Students.

In a small gathering in Lamorva House, Falmouth we celebrated the ingenuity and creativity of this year’s graduates who have explored the medium of illustration to its fullest potential.Their work was inspiring and of outstanding quality, bordering on fine art with in-depth thinking and profound, explorative concepts.

It wasn’t any great surprise that the graduate’s work was so exceptional, as the course is ‘one of its kind’ run by dedicated staff, with an academic focus on personal origination in storytelling.

On paper, it sounds too good to be true. In reality, it seems to be delivering all it promises. I’m quite tempted to sign myself up!

Only 25 days until the official launch

The South West Outdoor Festival is just 25 days away, that’s less than 4 weeks until our little book is released into the public domain.

As the “first collaborative publishing venture of its kind” between the National Trust and Falmouth University, publishing best magazine The Bookseller has kick-started our latest publicity drive with a great write up of the joint venture.

Read the complete article for more information on this groundbreaking project…

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