Clare Kitson at Pages of Hackney

Poppy and I went up the road to Pages of Hackney to see Clare Kitson talking about her new book ‘British Animation – The Channel 4 Factor’. Pages of Hackney is a new, very lovingly-stocked independent bookshop in Clapton and the talk was only £3 with a glass of wine included. I’d certainly like to wander back that way soon. Downstairs was a small freshly painted space with a telly and 25 chairs where Clare talked about her new book while her partner held up a ring binder with some photocopies to illustrate some of the works that she spoke about. It was just about full up with a mixture of animators, a few students and some of the artists featured in the book. She summarised the remarkable role that Channel 4 played in supporting the production of animation, until the big budgets dwindled to leave just Animate! and 4mations. There was also a television on which she showed Door by David Anderson and City Paradise by Gaelle Denis.

I was lucky enough to have a copy of the book already as my producer Kathrein won a copy from Shooting People and kindly gave it to me. I’m a Clare Kitson fan, she wrote Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales: An Animator’s Journey. The author confesses that her new book has a hybrid quality, she tells her angle on the story of Channel 4 animation and sandwiched in the middle are the production stories from some of Channel 4’s key works (30 of them). It’s interesting for nosy people like me, coming to animation just before the end of the Channel 4 funding era to hear how it all came about and to know where everyone fits in. At the film festivals I have met many of the animators mentioned but not quite appreciated their place in the history of British Animation, I’m thinking about Marjut Rimminen, Vera Neubauer and Ruth Lingford in particular. It is the nature of the text that it leaves one wondering about the future of animation here in Britain, now that Channel 4 no longer supports it to a great degree. I think those Channel 4 years have led to a degree of expectation about funding for animation that has caused many animators to shelve their prospective works. I have lately tried to tailor my practice so that I can continue without waiting for significant funding (until another golden age comes by!).

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