Return to the memory of art classes from middle and high school. Did you ever imagine that the creations you made breath life into? Like the story of Geppetto and Pinocchio, this little dream may still live in our childlike, even though we have long lost interest in fairy tales. And there is Aardman, who brought the fantasy into reality as an art of animations. A 40-year career in clay animation is now brought to Seoul. This SMT reporter visited ‘The Art of Aardman Animations: Wallace & Gromit & Friends’ to welcome an old friend.
The Grand Animations Out
Maestro of clay animation, ‘Aardman Studio’ has been loved by people all over the world for its unique sensitivity and stories that bring about analog sensitivity. Since its founding in 1972, when it attempted to present a new medium to audiences, Aardman Studio’s stop motion clay animations became huge hits. Among the Studio’s more well-known works as ‘Wallace & Gromit Series’, ‘Shaun the Sheep’, and ‘Chicken Run’, it’s more than likely that everyone has seen at least one of the Studio’s films. With such fame, the Studio awarded four Academy Awards in the field of animation and two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards.
‘The Art of Aardman Animations: Wallace & Gromit & Friends’ is an exhibition with 372 pieces of artwork by Aardman Studio. The displays show all the underlying factors that come together to create the animation during production, from character concept sketching to real shooting set. Though there are several ways to reach Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) from Sookmyung Women’s University, the quickest way is to take the subway from Sookmyung Women's University Station and get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station. Once there, use a map application to locate the museum. Follow the route as outlined on the app. It takes less than 40 minutes to arrive at DDP.
The Emotions of Were-Aardman
After having one’s ticket checked, visitors pass through a door that opens like one of those wall-like fantasyland gateways. To enjoy more about each display at the exhibition, people can borrow an audio guide from the rental booth just next to the entrance, so don’t forget to check it up.
The exhibition is composed of 7 sections. It starts with ‘Who is “Aardman”?’ The section briefly introduces Aardman Studio to visitors. One of the displays worth an in depth look is the work entitled ‘Creature Interview’, which won an Oscar with unique idea of interviewing zoo animals expressed in clay animation. The second section is about ‘The idea takes shape with drawings’. It highlights early-on initial artistic ideas and experiments for a character repeatedly drawn out on paper that stand before onlookers like marvelous creatures. Visitors get a chance to view conceptual sketchbooks with detail expression, body parts, characteristics, and even minuscule details for a character to be on storyboard and concept artwork. Right next to it, there is a digital artwork display showing how the drawings come to life. The third section, ‘The drawing takes shape with sculpture’, presents displays that inform visitors on the methodology of making characters appear flexible and elastic. Using stop motion techniques, the Studio animates its characters by each static scene. Viewing the actual working table and original set make the process more imaginable for people. A display of ‘Were-rabbit in stages’ shows how each prop make the character come to life. A mere wire adjustment and use of fabric gathered together to create a dynamic. Before next section, there is a question asked, “Why does Aardman Studio make frequent use of nature?” The answer is given in the fourth section ‘Nature’. With nature as a background, the concept arts poured the Studio’s imaginative ideas present a grand sight. And the fifth section ‘Craftsmen’ is waiting for those fantasied images to take form and shape into reality. Personally, this SMT reporter was amazed at the amount of detail on the technical drawings of the electron pants in ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers’. The sixth and seventh sections are strongly connected to the subject of light: ‘Sculpture takes shape with light’ and ‘Movement gives light its shape’. Unlike the previous sections, these sections feature a work of art themselves of a large ship model of ‘Pirates! - In An Adventure With Scientists’. Its true beauty, however, comes out when light is reflected on the floor to give the appearance of movement on the ship. It honestly looks like being heaved about on the rough seas. The exhibition ends with a short teaser, the introduction to “Early Man”, a new film that will come out on May 3. Leaving the exhibition hall, visitors can join a color clay experience program; however, as the classes for that day had all finished, this SMT reporter couldn’t register for one. At only 4,000 won, it is a highly recommended experience while at the exhibition. Only those who purchased tickets are permitted to apply for a class. Even though you may have missed the color clay experience, don’t get disheartened. There are plenty of photo zones and an excellent souvenir shop outside of the exhibition, which are open to all. The souvenir shop offers unique products such as scratch postcards, ketchains, and pop-up cards that worth to visit.
“Without distinction of sex or age, an exhibition where people can reminisce analog sensibility”, summarizes fully the reporter’s experience at this exhibition. It can justly be described as an exhibition for the eyes, ears, and all other senses. The exhibition features the extensive endeavor of the Aardman Studio for its clay animation that arouses awe in any visitor.