The Animation and Public Engagement Symposium, 18th Nov, part 1

I made a full day trip to Bradford yesterday for The Animation and Public Engagement Symposium, organised by Gill Bliss from The Animation Academy.  It was a really interesting day, it would take a week to be able to represent what was said faithfully.  I’m going to note down a few observations and links here so that I don’t forget them, paying special attention to those papers that have a direct link to my current work.

Sharon Campbell from DJCAD, gave the first paper “Developing Good Citizen Animators” in which she described a project offered to second year Animation, Graphic Design and Illustration Students in which the students had the chance to collaborate with local organisations working with individuals recovering from substance misuse.  The process involved conducting an interview, transcription of interviews and the production of a short film based upon the documentary audio material.  Sharon showed a few of the films and though they were rough, they really struck a true note, and what an amazing chance for the students, to learn how to collaborate with members of your own community.

Nicolo Ceccarelli, Alghero School of Architecture, University of Sassari gave a really beautiful presentation called  ‘Animation and informative films: two early ‘digital’ films’.  He brought a whiff of glamour to the day.  The two films in question were La Memoria del Futuro by Nelo Risi from 1960, and A Computer Glossary by Charles and Ray Eames from 1968, he used these films to make a convincing case for the language of animation being the perfect tool to make complex ideas perspicuous.

Melanie Hani chaired the first panel, called Animation Therapy; an animated process to enhance social wellbeing.   This panel consisted of 3 papers presented by Elaine Drainville, Yvonne Eckersley and John Tyrell respectively.  They all work on projects under the banner of  Healing, Education Animation Research Therapy (HEART), which was founded by Melanie Hani.  Elaine Drainville talked about ruMAD² which is a teaching resource, or set of strategies that offer guidance to communities to help them make a difference to their own lives and those of others by raising levels of resilience, aspirations and optimism.  Elaine applied the ruMAD² model to an animation project with young people who had recently been bereaved, and it’s success was demonstrated by a wonderful short film with a muddy picture and a shouty song soundtrack,  a very visceral response by a young person to being given time and space to shout and play.

Yvonne Eckersley worked with a self-advocacy groung for adults with learning disabilities, also on the theme of bereavement. They used green screen, puppet and cut out animation for ease and accessibility, the project’s aim was to define loss for the group and evaluate whether participating in the animation process might change their perception and facilitate wellbeing.  Animation as therapy. Yvonne showed a beautiful autobiographical film of her own called  Brush the Teddy’s toes, which she made about her son’s developmental disability.

It was really exciting to me to hear their experiences, they were presenting a theoretical and practical methodology similar to what we have been doing with CLAHRC on the 3 films made with young people in care, and there were some really useful points made throughout their presentations, and the HEART and ruMAD2 models will be really useful for guidance in future projects.


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