Aardman & the Art of Animation

Term: 1 Year: 2017

On 29th June 2017 Wallace & Gromit and friends: The magic of Aardman opens at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Best known for its inimitable claymation productions, Aardman is an animation studio from Bristol, UK and the creative force behind such beloved films and television series as Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run. Founded 40 years ago by David Sproxton and Peter Lord and later joined by Nick Park, Aardman has paved the road for stop-motion clay animation techniques.

The exhibition begins with a visual snapshot of the studio’s humble beginnings, when two 12-year-old boys, Sproxton and Lord, began experimenting with animation on a kitchen table. The exhibition follows Aardman’s production process. It starts with the idea taking shape through drawing, and showcases the sketches and visual design of Aardman’s original and eccentric stories and characters. The second section continues the focus on the creative pipeline and follows the transition from drawing to sculpture. Here visitors explore sketchbooks, concept drawings, storyboards, puppets and sets, all of which offer an insight into the creative process behind Aardman’s quirky animations. The final section of the exhibition explores how the sculptures are brought to life through the animation process.

The exhibition includes over 400 concept drawings, character and background studies, watercolours, storyboards and original sketchbooks from artists Park and Lord. It presents character figurines, original sets and a host of moving image content, including clip montages, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Visitors will especially love the five-metre-tall ship from The Pirates!, a live shooting set from Shaun the Sheep, Park’s very first Wallace & Gromit drawings, as well as Lord’s initial sketches of Morph.

The exhibition will host a range of activities for students including a kids’ trail. Students of all ages will enjoy learning about the creative and collaborative animation process as well as exploring Aardman’s distinctive storytelling style.

Animation is an engaging and relevant addition to any area of study, it connects directly with STEM subjects: for instance, students can learn more about how our eyes make sense of moving images, how many frames per second we see when watching an animation, how animation technology has changed over the years from chalk board animations to cel animation to 3D animation. In Media and the Visual Arts, animation opens up opportunities to explore character design, set design, storyboarding and production. English teachers can enhance literacy through an animation unit that includes script writing, storyboarding, discussing narrative elements and characterisation. These key steps of the production process allow students to develop their meaning-making skills. The creation of an animation also promotes critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication as students work in production teams.