We had a day free in the city after a big gig the night before, and it was a bit of a cold rainy Melbourne afternoon, so we went for an explore around the Wallace & Grommit and Friends – The Magic of Aardman exhibition at the ACMI in Melbourne’s Federation Square. It’s amazing – so good! I highly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed any of the Aardman animations or if you are just interested in what it takes to make an animated movie. The sets are so detailed, so intricate. Such a lot of work goes into each scene, its incredible.
I hadn’t actually heard of ‘The Pirates! Band Of Misfits’ movie, but the sets in the exhibition inspired me to find out more so we watched it that night when we got home.
I wish I had more photos of these sets – they were incredibly detailed. Shelves full of little tiny jars of all sorts of things, mini books, lanterns, crates, little tiny skeletons – it’s such a skill to make these miniature items in such detail and realism.
The Art Department
‘Stained glass windows, vegetables, cakes, crockery, framed photos, door handles, curtains, wallpaper, hats, shoes, handbags, lamps, chairs, alarm clocks…
The numerous props seen on the sets of Aardman films are very similar to objects viewers might use every day, but each one is extremely important for defining and clarifying the character’s personalities. These scale models are the work of talented craftspeople engaged in an artistic manufacturing process who construct, chisel, mould, cut, sculpt, paint, and cast. It is work based on shape, but is also influenced by the materials used – sets and puppets are rarely made from what they are supposed to represent, apart from fabrics and glass whose particular looks are difficult to replicate using anything else. By observing the shapes and patterns of each object, we can see the details which make them unique. Whether it’s the ridges on a vegetable or the shape of a keyhole, the artists are fully able to express their talent when creating pieces on a reduced scale. Many copies of the same miniature accessory are often created, such as the beer mugs in Pirates! or the thousands of vegetables used in the vegetable contest in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, giving a final result that is both abundant and authentic. Although it may seem repetitive, reproducing these elements actually showcases the subtle inventiveness of the sculptors, enhancing the richness of the final image on the screen with each handmade item being slightly but visibly different.’