Adventures in Animation

It’s the 3rd May, Day Two of our Climate Stories Scientists’ Workshop.

I’m sitting in the magnificent Great Hall of Dartington Hall in Totnes, and I’m looking across to the printmaking tables of our printmaking workshop. 4 rickety trestle tables have been set up down the length of the Hall, and the tables are covered in inked zinc plates, random bits of foam and paper, cardboard rolls with glued-on templates of various shapes including pine trees, coffee cups, dirty rags, rolling pins and a hand-operated printing press at the end. Behind the tables is a long washing line tied between two chairs, and series of prints are pegged on and drying. As soon as they can be handled, they will be photographed and turned into animations.

5 climate scientists are busy discovering what can be done with the materials on the table. The concentration is palpable across the Hall. Grappling with concepts of spacial organisation on the page, colour relationships and the inevitable mucky paws that printmaking entails, our course participants are intent on exploring this newest of worlds with a scientist’s attention to detail, conscientiousness and imaginative immersion. This is hard work.

Page after page emerges from the printing press, complex sequences of colour tone and form, hung up in sequence, laid out on the oaken floors in long lines, presaging the animated sequence that they will become. The simplicity of form bears great complexity of thought and meaning, thanks to some inks, some paper and a bit of software.

A black plane zooms through an agitated bright blue sky, trailing turbulence in its wake.

Earth floats through velvety indigo space, then wanes and vanishes only to reappear; a cyclical process that begs the question of the renewal of our planet and our place in it.

Palm trees move in a hurricane against a luridly burning background, the colours of a Caribbean sunset signalling this time not caipirinhas by the poolside, but the distruction of whole communities by the raging winds of climate change. Paradise lost…

How do we restore it?

Pierrette Thomet

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