Re-animating the Archive

Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference, Manchester, 12-14 October 2015

Slide01At this year’s National Archives and Research Libraries UK conference, Alison Green and Birgitta Hosea will be presenting a collaborative project between four organisations: MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins, the Guildhall School of Music and the Old Operating Theatre Museum.

With a conference theme of exploring new digital destinations for the heritage sector, Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, will examine methods for meaningful and innovative digital engagement with museums and archives. Reflecting on the CUT! exhibition created for the Old Operating Theatre Museum, Green and Hosea will demonstrate a case study of the use of animation in museums and archives.


How can digital media augment old spaces and things? Using the exhibition, CUT! (Old Operating Theatre Museum, London, 2014) as a case-study, we will present a project that juxtaposed original, auratic objects with reinterpretations in the form of short digital animations. CUT! was a collaboration between the Museum and students from two courses at Central Saint Martins, MA Character Animation and MA Culture, Criticism and Curation.

The aim of the exhibition was to bring back a sense of the people who had once worked or been treated in a space now filled with glass cases and curious objects. Animations inspired by the museum’s quirky range of artefacts from medical history were created by students from MA Character Animation. The forty films were curated by students from MA Culture, Criticism and Curation, placed as interventions into the museum’s permanent collection, like a haunting or re-animation of the historic objects.

The exhibition, conceived as an experiment and which proved popular with visitors, raised issues about how audiences relate differently to ‘history’ versus ‘the present’ and how different people engage with different types of objects and technology. The paper will theorise these results through discussions of animation and haunting (Cholodenko, 2007 & 2011) and memory as speech versus memory as object (Derrida, 1996). Both presenters have led several collaborative projects with students working with museums. We are interested in exploring what such projects mean for our respective fields—digital animation and curating—and, further, reflecting upon these partnerships as forms of pedagogy.

Link to presentation slides:


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Off the Rails: Animating Train Journeys

Animated Landscapes: History, Form and Function, a new anthology edited by Chris Pallant is now available from Bloomsbury Academic.

Chris Pallant will Chair a panel at Fantasy / Animation: A Conference on Media, Medium and Genre at Kings College London on Friday 4th September 2015 featuring papers by chapter authors Malcolm Cook, Birgitta Hosea and James Newton.


Chapter 9: Off the Rails: Animating Train Journeys by Birgitta Hosea

Landscape is often thought of as eternal and unchanging, but in reality it is changing all the time due to variations in habitation, agriculture, industry and climate change. The mobility paradigm in urban geography and sociology proposes that cities and society can be studied in terms of travel rather than stasis – through the movement of peoples, resources, data, finance – in order to understand the formation of identity, ideology, power and society. Indeed, in 2012 the average resident of the UK spent 361 hours travelling a total of 6,691 miles. 11 % of this travel was done by public transport. During their travels, the experience that these average residents had of landscape was of passing through places before arriving at their final destination.

In accord with these ideas about mobility, rather than considering landscape as a static entity, this chapter focuses on animations that move between locations and are concerned with trajectory and locomotion. After noting the connections between early cinema and the train, I examine a body of works that are all thematically linked through their association with animated train journeys, although they represent a range of practices that might be considered pre-cinematic animation, cinematic animation and post-cinematic animation. Imagined landscape in animation – from the pre-filmic phantom rides and moving panoramas, to Ivor the Engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, Madame Tutli~Putli, transport information films, post-filmic subway zoetropes and railway simulation games – is considered in terms of the implications of the mobility paradigm for animation, not just in terms of visual content or subject matter, but in terms of animation as a concept and the politics of animation. To conclude, it will be argued that the animated railway journey can be read as a metaphor for the transience and flux at the root of contemporary society that Zygmunt Bauman has termed liquid modernity.

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Women Hold Up Half The Sky


Strangelove Moving Image Festival, Mon 16th March 2015: Women Hold Up Half The Sky

This 1-hour programme takes as its title a Mao-era propaganda slogan as a provocation to think about the status of women in China today relative to the past. These short, independent films by (all but one) female animators, many studying outside their native China, raise issues from contemporary China including personal identity, hormones and chemicals in factory production, the pressure of academic success, memory, the ties of family, abortion and the influence of pervasive computing.

Curated by Chunning Guo (Renmin University), Birgitta Hosea (CSM), Shelley Page (Dreamworks)

MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London:

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Pinning Butterflies: Royal Albert Hall Monday 9/03/2015

Pinning Butterflies: this audience engagement project was created by BA Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins with the Royal Albert Hall.

Animation (by First Year students on MA Character Animation at CSM), installation and performances on the themes of Pucini’s opera Madam Butterfly were installed to be walked through in the backstage area of the Royal Albert Hall. Four groups of visitors at a time were lead through loading bays, changing rooms, props areas, theatre corridors and catering spaces to experience a range of works including animated emotions, a life size chrysalis, provocative poetry in the lift and suicide by origami.

This one day event was designed to get the local community interested in the events at the Royal Albert Hall.






Madam Butterfly production at the Royal Albert Hall (from the NY Times DEC. 22, 2014)

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Documentation from the CUT! Exhibition

CUT! was an exhibition at the Old Operating Theatre Museum, 9a St Thomas’ Street, SE1 9RY that ran from 3 November 2014 to 15th December 2014. This museum is sited in a former anatomical theatre and herb garret from the ancient St Thomas hospital. There has been a hospital on this site near London Bridge for over 1,000 years!

Animations inspired by the museum’s quirky range of artefacts from medical history were created by students from MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins with soundtracks composed by students from Guildhall School of Music. MACA’s Visiting Professor, Shelley Page, and the museum’s Creative Director, Kevin Flude, helped the students to brainstorm ideas for short 1-minute films.

The 40 films that the students made were curated by student curators from MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and placed as interventions into the museum’s permanent collection, like a haunting or re-animation of the solid objects. The films were projected onto the wall of the famous anatomical theatre, below cabinets and tucked away in drawers and surgical cabinets. This contrast between contemporary, digital animation and historic artefacts and site proved popular with visitors and raised issues about how audiences relate to original objects in glass cases.

The curation team ran a series of events during the exhibition and also created a CUT! exhibition app which is available on the Apple App Store.

Pictures from the exhibition:









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Call for Papers: CONFIA 2015

Call for papers for CONFIA 2015 International Conference on Animation and Illustration in Braga, Portugal. Deadline extended till 31st January.

This conference will be 10-12 April 2015 and with Suzanne Buchan, editor of Animation: Interdisciplinary Journal, as keynote speaker, it promises to be interesting.

Conference website:

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Documentation from KETCHUP

The Ketchup exhibition by Chunning (Maggie) Guo in Central Saint Martin’s Window Gallery was extended by two weeks due to popular demand.

Setting up (thanks to Judy Wang):





The exhibition: Window I





The exhibition: Window II





Private View

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During her presentation, Maggie described how, based on incidents from her husband, Baishen Yan’s childhood in a secret military base, the installation served as a materialisation of some of the ideas behind the film. A telephone call from her mother-in-law and the sensual memory trigger of tomatoes being made into ketchup, inspired her script for the film.

Watch the film on Vimeo:

Curated by Birgitta Hosea. Photos by Birgitta Hosea and Chunning Guo.

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KETCHUP by Chunning (Maggie) Guo

MA Character Animation presents:
Ketchup, an installation by Animation Artist-in-Residence Chunning (Maggie) Guo.

MACA is delighted to welcome Chunning (Maggie) Guo as our first Chinese Visiting Researcher and Animation Artist-in-Residence, a project made possible by the British Council and CICAF. Maggie is an independent animator who collaborates with Baishen Yan on films that explore memory and is in residence at Central Saint Martins for 3 months. Her work has been shown at international festivals and she was previously in residence as a Visiting Scholar at Vancouver Film School. She currently lectures at Renmin University, where she is also a PhD candidate, and is the author of several books on animation and digital arts. Link:

Ketchup, in the Windows Gallery at Central Saint Martin, presents the context behind the short film, Ketchup, made with Baishen Yan, in which tomatoes act as a memory trigger for brutal events in China in 1984.

Opening times: 09.00-21.00, 11-25th November 2014

Venue: Windows Gallery, The Crossing Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AA

Screening: There will also be a screening, presentation and Q & A on Monday 17th November at 18.30 in room C303. If you would like to attend the screening, please RSVP to: as seats are limited.

Join Facebook event:

Exhibition curated by Birgitta Hosea


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Documentation of SEeAFAR

Foá + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes, Thurle Wright

Folkstone Triennial Fringe 29-31st August 2014
Deptford X 27th September – 5th October 2014

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Curated by Birgitta Hosea

He will not have been (a) present but he will have made a gift by not disappearing without leaving a trace.
(Jacques Derrida in Re-Reading Levinas,1991)

Seeafar features new work by six artists whose practice traces the presence of absence through drawing, painting, installation, performance and moving image. Recalling the perspective of generations of women living in a state of unknowing as they wait for news or the return of loved ones from overseas, the works explore the tensions between anticipation and memory, separation and speculation. The visionary act of making becomes an empowering process that enables each one of us to think things into the world, to reveal the hidden and make manifest the unsaid.

The Old Truckers Lounge, Folkestone Harbour




Foá + Hosea 
Traion III (Folkestone), Mixed Media (Graphite/pen on paper, projected animation), Dimensions variable (2014)

In the Traion series, Foá + Hosea respond to the myth of the first drawing, in which Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall to hold on to his memory before he left on a journey. Foá + Hosea engage with this dilemma – the impossibility of attempting to hold time – through fixing their digital shadows in place with animation. In the title of the series, the words ‘trace’ and ‘motion’ are merged to reference their process of drawing over film, in which evidence of presence and motion is traced.

Artists’ bio: Maryclare Foá draws to examine the relationship and affects between place and practitioner. Her PhD revealed how sound can be drawing that interacts with the environment. She teaches for Central Saint Martins and writes for Studio International. Birgitta Hosea is a media artist working with expanded animation, installation and performance. Her work and PhD explore performativity, presence, affect and digital materiality. She is Course Director of MA Character Animation at CSM. Both artists have exhibited internationally and awards include Foá – RCA Drawing prize and twice shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Hosea – MAMA Holographic Arts Award and an Adobe Impact Award. Foá and Hosea work individually and also collaborate. Recent collaborative works have been exhibited in Paris – Dans ma cellule, une silhouette, Centre d’Art Contemporain, La Ferme du Buisson; London – Draw to Perform, ]Performance Space[; DRAFT, Parasol Unit; Bletchley Park – Ghost Station and Orkney – Papay Gyro Nights.




Carali McCall
Work no. 4 (Restraint / Running) Folkestone, Performance to camera (2014)

In an area of performance drawing, which considers drawing to be connected to movement through the act of doing and physical activity, this performance addresses what it means to use the extreme form of physical activity – running. Using (myself) the runner to articulate an understanding of how the body moves through space, I use the ‘breath’ and the discipline of marathon training to explore how the physical act of running can be a viable form of drawing.

Artist’s bio: Carali McCall is an artist working and living in London from Canada. She completed her MFA at Slade School of Art, UCL in 2006 and has recently submitted her practice-based PhD thesis at Central Saint Martins, UAL. Although training for marathons and ultramarathons have always occurred alongside her art practice, it was not until she adopted Euclid’s definition of the line ‘a line is a breadthless length’ and began to explore the role of the body in drawing that McCall has become aware of potential connections between running and drawing. Since studying the influences and the trajectory of performance art practices, her recent work has been used to explore linear properties beyond conventional mark making processes. Recent exhibitions and presentations of work include, Performing Site, Falmouth University 2014, Draw to Perform, Performance Space, London, 2013 and Again and Again and Again: Serial Formats and Repetitive Actions, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2012.





Anne Robinson
Skinny White Sailor, 4-6 x paintings, 30.5cm x 40.5cm, oil on canvas (2014)
Thrashing In the Static, Single screen video, 10 minute loop (2014)

How far is too far? How can we look over the edge, feel our way beyond the horizon, traverse time zones and cross the bounds of one human life? The two new works presented here, paintings in the series Skinny White Sailor and the song-film Thrashing In the Static, involve a haunting – keeping watch in the night for revenant sailors. In Robinson’s song-films the voice becomes spirit presence. In Thrashing In the Static, the wavelengths of a search for a brother lost at sea soar over the edge across time zones – a ‘traveling eye’ crossing from the Thames foreshore in 21st century London, way back to an island in the South China Sea in 1942, a dream terrain, long away and far ago. The work draws on surrealism, phenomenology and radical philosophies of time to work with uncanny presence, the sorcery of long exposures, high speed filming and painterly surface distorting out time sense.

Artist’s bio: Anne Robinson’s practice encompasses painting, moving image installations and performance and is concerned with the perception and politics of time passing in art.  She has shown work nationally and internationally, recently working with the Commonist Gallery and CGTV on film and singing interventions. She completed a residency in 2013 in Marseilles at De Centre der Space. She has published in: The Journal of Visual Arts Practice and The Journal of Media Practice as well as curating One More Time (2011), Over Time (2014) and being one of the art curators for the Supernormal festival. She has recently completed a PhD on temporality and painting and also works with the moving image in collaboration with other artists and as an educator, currently senior lecturer in Film at London Metropolitan University.





Sarah Sparkes 
The Haunted Sea and Jane Conquest Rings the Bell, Mixed media (2014)

Sarah Sparkes’ great grandfather was a Magic Lanternist. Using his decaying lantern slides and combining these with a magician’s optical effects, the artist has created a series of works illuminating the ambiguous relationship between the woman watching on the shore and the spectre of the shipwreck at sea. In Jane Conquest rings the Bell a standard maritime narrative is re-imagined, in which a visionary woman looks out from behind the helm of destiny.

Artist’s bio: Sarah Sparkes’ work, as both an artist and curator, is primarily concerned with concepts of immateriality and how this might be visualised. She runs the visual arts and cross-disciplinary research project GHost, which explores how ghosts are manifested in visual art and contemporary culture. Her chapter on Ghost has been published in The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures, 2014. Recent exhibitions include Theatrical Dynamics at Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles; The Infinity Show at NN Contemporary, Northampton and Haunted Landscapes, University of Falmouth, Cornwall. She is currently developing work for the Over Time project in Greenwich, London and is one of the selected artists for Art in Romney Marsh Churches, 2014.





Thurle Wright
Crossing, Collage (Found map of Dover Strait and two poems by Matthew Arnold; ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘Calais Sands’), 90x100cm, (2012)
Deep Reading (Extract from children’s adventure novel and old school atlas, glue, on paper), 60 x 20″, (2010)

An oily old sea map and pages from a poetry book: the poems in this work are addressed to a woman at the end of her honeymoon travels. The poet, Arnold, speaks to his new wife as he gazes out to sea at night contemplating the future in a mood of great uncertainty and melancholy. In deconstructing the lines of the poems and stitching them in small paper stages across the map, the physical progress of the sea crossing is referenced, flowing alongside the slow unravelling process of reflecting and writing itself. There is a patient stitching of thoughts, not knowing how it will end. The words themselves become waves and currents, caught in that space between leaving and arriving, at the mercy of the tides.

Artist’s Bio: Thurle’s delicate paper reconstructions stem from an interest in the systems and structures of language, the ordering of knowledge, the collecting, storing and accessing of words. Working in the gap between the concrete and abstract impression of text on paper, Thurle cuts, folds, weaves and stitches lines of words into a new visual format, in which traces of the original mingle with personal, often playful or poetic interpretations. Thurle has shown work widely both in the UK and internationally including the Bookarts Triennial in Lithuania, Deptford X, and Brussels Art on Paper. Her work is in various public and private collections including Brisbane Sate Library. Numerous residencies include work for the V&A Museum of Childhood, Perth Central School of Art and Design, Fremantle Arts Centre, Camberwell Arts Festival and various colleges.




P1040464Bonus artwork by Sandra Louison at Folkestone



Num3er, Creekside, Deptford




Acknowledgements: thanks to all of the artists for their help in putting together this exhibition as well as Anne Pietsch, Sandra Louison and the teams behind the Folkestone Fringe, Num3er and Deptford X



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SEeAFAR: 27th Sept – 5th Oct 2014


Fresh from the Folkestone Triennial Fringe, this touring exhibition curated by Birgitta Hosea brings together new work from Foa + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes and Thurle Wright. Using a range of media – drawing, animation, performance to video, light installation, painting and collage, the works engage with living with the constant presence of an absence through the metaphor of waiting for someone to return from sea.

OPEN FROM 12-6pm on: 27th, 28th September and 1-5th October

PRIVATE VIEW: Friday 26th September 6-8pm – if you would like to attend – register for the Private View on Facebook or EventBrite

[Invite image Jane Conquest Rings the Bell (detail) Sarah Sparkes, mixed media, 2014]

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