Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman would have to be one of the happiest exhibitions ever staged in Melbourne.
Just about everyone walking around the exhibition, on at the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI), had a smile on their face.
Those watching the television screens, which featured scenes from Aardman’s extensive body of work, were either smiling or chuckling out loud. Age was no barrier- parents and/or grandparents were as engaged as their kids.
As the name suggests the exhibition spotlights the Aardman Studio which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Best known for its Claymation productions, Aardman is the creative force behind beloved film and TV shows such as Creature Comforts, Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run. It’s scenes from these shows and a number of other Aardman’s productions which feature on TV screens throughout the exhibition.
There are also scenes from movies which I didn’t realise came from Aardman including The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012), Arthur Christmas (2011) and Flushed Away (2006).
The exhibition also features more than 350 objects from the Aardman archives including original artworks, over 50 set pieces such as Wallace’s Cracking Contraptions and Gromit’s famous vegetable garden, Shaun the Sheep sets, the flying machine from Chicken Run and the spectacular 5-metre tall ship from The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
A small section of the exhibition is devoted to the studio’s new feature film, Early Man, which is due for release in 2018. It includes interviews with those involved in creating the film.
While the exhibition is great fun, thanks to the film and TV clips, there’s also a strong educational component as it highlights the incredible and exhaustive technical process behind all Aardman productions.
Sketchbooks, concept drawings and storyboards explain how ideas take shape while the exhibition also explores the film making process.
For those inspired as a result of exploring the exhibition there’s The Studio where you can build you own clay character and make a short stop motion animation. The crowd in the Studio would suggest this is a very popular activity.
For me the joy of this exhibition is revisiting some of my favourite kids television shows and movies and learning more about the very exhaustive process involved in creating such delights.
Jenny Burns visited Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman as a guest of ACMI.
*Photo credit: Charlie Kinross. Image courtesy of ACMI.
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