Painting and Poetry: September

In the final month of their residency, Stephanie and Cameron have created new works inspired by the Austen family quilt, and by a series of children's books that reimagine Jane Austen's novels for a young audience

Cameron’s final work for us is an animation that aims to inspire children of all ages to read Jane Austen. It was whilst in his parents’ bookshop in Farnham that he discovered a series called Awesomely Austen

Cameron: The Awesomely Austen books have an assortment of cartoon interpretations of the characters from Jane Austen’s novels, and immediately, the idea of adapting the drawings clicked with me. The characters are full of life and appear to burst out of the pages from sheer personality and willpower.

I initially contacted the illustrator Églantine Ceulemans, and she suggested that I got in touch with her publishers, which I did. The publishers were very interested in the concept and asked for a storyboard of my idea, and they liked it so much that they approved it.

The story is simply about the Jane Austen characters from the children’s books becoming so real that they come to life and experience a bigger world around them. They accomplish this by being adventurous, a little mischievous, and, most importantly, through the help of friends and the power of working together. I decided to film in my parents’ bookshop and used stop motion animation and 2D.

Watch Cameron’s beautiful animation:

Cameron: Filming took several nights. The books were animated by hand, the track was animated with a computer, achieving many camera angles, and all of them were shot late into the night to avoid flicker. The bookshop chandeliers acted as great consistent light; hence there was no need to bring in artificial camera lights. Once the stop motion filming was finished, drawing and painting over the stop motion footage at home began.

First, the animated characters would be drawn on their own, and then they were animated the second time depending on the shot’s camera movement or if a book page partly covers a character’s body. It gives an illusion of depth and space, making these cartoons seem more real and possible.

With all these techniques, the colour correction of the original colours of the books was altered to be warmer to match the bookshop’s environment.

Furthermore, animated shadows matching the characters’ movements were implemented appropriately depending on the shot’s lighting, resulting in a believable and whimsical outcome.

Local musician Paul Meadows created the music and created a magical, adventurous, yet mischievous and classical type joyful music piece that brilliantly captures the atmosphere and timing of the film.

A behind-the-scenes shot as Cameron films in his parents’ bookshop:

By contrast, Stephanie’s final work for us was inspired by the Austen family quilt, a precious object that caught her eye on her first (virtual!) visit to the House. The resulting poem is Three of Diamonds, a clever, intricate poem that plays with form and language to present so much more than the sum of its parts:

Three of Diamonds

After the Austen women’s patchwork coverlet

 

Please accept

our quilt of home hues.

Spin the kaleidoscope until

the tiles tessellate, then splinter into

blood red, burnt orange, bud green, blush pink,

bitter ecru. Still you won’t see how she used to

swirl her paints together and lacquer

her lips moss green.

 How I grinned.

 

Like

good sentences,

stitches, too, have their syntax.

How will this quilt be read when we are gone?

Will they divine the soft soul blue of our ducks’ eggs,

the midday ochre of our sunflowers, five feet tall?

Will they understand just how long

those bright springs

spooled on?

 

Time

is a running stitch.

Time is a blank page, a blink,

waxing aster, waning strawberries,

the rhythm of growings, losings, leavings.

Time is a painting with the sketch showing through,

measured in throat-clearing and after-dinner talk.

I pack my hourglass with petals, but I know

time is a soft fruit rotting on the stalk.

One season a ruby,

the next

 

Listen to Stephanie reading Three of Diamonds here:

 

The Austen family patchwork coverlet:

Stephanie: The inspiration for this poem came from this beautiful handmade coverlet in the Museum’s collection – it was stitched by Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their mother. I was drawn in by its meticulous, precise layout, and how analogous this deliberateness seemed to the writing of poetry. I also took inspiration from the cultivating that went on around the house in the family’s time and continues today; I wanted particularly to reflect the turn of the seasons as the house moves into autumn this month.

Finally, as this is the last month of our residency, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the museum for having us! It’s been a wonderful experience working with such a rich collection.

 


 

Naturally, we want to thank them too! Cameron and Stephanie have been wonderful residents and we are so grateful for their hard work and brilliantly exciting and imaginative creations. Their residency has flown by and we’re going to miss them!

However our year of Painting & Poetry isn’t over – check back soon to meet our final Creatives in Residence, who will join us from October – December.