We're keen for more students to use our archives to inspire their own creative work, so I was very interested to learn of a project involving second year students at Manchester School of Art studying BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation, BA (Hons) Creative Multimedia and BA (Hons) Fine-Art Curating.
One of the options they could choose was Out of the Archive/Imagined Museum, a project that aimed at revealing the narratives within archives. It began with musician Peter Byrom-Smith meeting the students and visiting two archives with them, that of the entomology department at Manchester Museum and Manchester Metropolitan University's own Special Collections. At Manchester Museum students viewed a collection of insects selected by curator Dmitri Logunov for their potential to unfold narrative responses focused on issues such as mimicry, pollution and climate change affecting insects. During their visit to MMU's Special Collections, archivists Jeremy Parrett and Louise Clennell introduced the group to Harry Page's Victorian scrapbooks, focusing on those items linked thematically to entomology and animation – items such as the exquisitely detailed silhouette books, the Butterfly Book and botanical sketchbooks.
Following the visits, the group discussed their ideas with Peter and each student outlined their project idea. Responses were broad, ranging from a concern for habitat loss, to native American Indian narratives including grasshoppers and Victorian feminist literature. Peter suggested which instruments might work best for the tone of each of these individual projects and then went away to write nineteen short pieces, one for each of the students choosing the animation project. Their individual animations will be projected during a live half-hour performance of these by 12 members of City of Liverpool's orchestra at the launch of this year's Unit X exhibition on May 12th.
It's left me wondering what we might offer to students studying animation at BCU ...