Right to Roam – The Big Draw

IMG_7824 IMG_0027 IMG_0026_NEW IMG_0031_NEW Here are some sketches from when I went along to The Big Draw event – Right to roam. I tried some sequential sketches documenting my walk along the river Taff.  I’m happy how these turned out because they seem to have a movement and rhythm to them as a set of 4. I would definitely like to do more sequential sketches like this but maybe I could try out having a stricter time scale and over a longer period of time.

– and here are some photos I took on the walk to document some beautiful colour combinations I saw.


Jan Svankmajer’s Attic – the final images

These are the final page spreads for “Jan Svankmajer’s Attic”. The title was inspired by how much inanimate objects are used to tell stories in his films and I thought it would be interesting to try and tell Jan Svankmajer’s story through objects I would imagine he had, such as film equipment and props from his films.

I can’t help feeling that the compositions in this book may be slightly repetitive due to the inanimate objects being small square/rectangle shapes. I tried to make sure the compositions were varied but maybe I could have played more with scale.

I am happy I went with the idea of using inanimate objects because I think it looks effective however, I think this book might need some text to accompany the images so this can be something for me to work on at another time.

I hand-bound my book, made the hardback cover and handmade my paper so it is more like a one-off artists book. One day I would like to professionally print this to see how it translates into a printed book. In my tutorial people seemed to like the jagged edges and it was suggested to me that I could put black behind the handmade paper so that I could still keep these edges if I wanted to print it.


After the briefing and talk on visual biographies I was inspired to read Persepolis, a graphic novel autobiography following Marjane Satrapi’s childhood in Iran. I particularly liked how things like dreams, thoughts and people telling stories are illustrated in this graphic novel. reading someone’s life experiences in one story gave me an idea of how to choose what moments I could depict in Jan Svankmajer’s life.

Another inspiration was Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maria Kalman. I really loved the idea of illustrating moments in a person’s life through only using objects and thought it linked in very well with Jan Svankmajer’s quote about objects carrying stories and emotions of their owners.

one of Maria Kalman’s illustrations for “why we broke up”

I decided I could use a similar approach of not drawing actual events, but props from his films and other personal items he may have had in his life.

As I was going to be making a book I also looked at lots of different handmade books.Throughout this project I was torn between creating a handmade book or a conventionally bound book to focus more on the images within it.

I thought back to when Howard Gardens library exhibited their collection of artist books.

Angela lorenz – The Theater of Nature or Curiosity Filled the Cabinet

I remembered this book in particular because it reminded me of Jan Svankmajer’s Historia Naturae which uses lots of props you would find in a natural history museum of curiosity cabinet. I think the use of folding book for this subject is really effective as when you look through it it feels like you are discovering wall after wall of artefacts.

Tegan White – The Book of Soil

In my search for handmade books I also found this one with pages made from handmade paper. I have used handmade paper previously in my Prophecy animation and it has a textured, tactile quality to it that would be perfect for a book on Jan Svankmajer.

My Summer Project

Over the summer holidays I was given a project to create a 24 or 32 page visual biography in book form.
We each had different people to create a biography for (e.g. artists, historical figures..) chosen for us based on personality, interests or work.
My person was Jan Svankmajer which I was really excited about as I had already seen a few of his short films and really enjoyed them. His films were also recommended to me before during the Prophecy project where I had created a textural paper stop-motion animation.

On first seeing some of his other films I remember noticing how there was a lot of emphasis on textures, especially in his Claymation films where fingerprints are often left in the clay. Sound effects are also very exaggerated which is especially noticeable in food scenes.

I decided to watch all of his short films again in the order they were released to get an idea of progression. I tried to sketch out ideas whilst watching them.

From watching these I found that he seems to give inanimate objects life in his films, or as he states; “I don’t actually animate objects, I coerce their inner life out of them.”

“I like things that have passed through human hands. Things that have been touched. Such things are charged with emotions that are capable of revealing themselves under certain, extremely sensitive circumstances. I collect such objects, surround myself with them and in the end I cast such ‘fetishes’ in my films.”

He also re-animates things such as animal skeletons, taxidermy, and animal tongues. For me this makes his films seem slightly unsettling. I found that there was a kind of dark humour to some of his films. His work is often playful or amusing, yet can also be disturbing.

He also re-animates things such as animal skeletons, taxidermy, and animal tongues. For me this makes his films seem slightly unsettling. I found that there was a kind of dark humour to some of his films. His work is often playful or amusing, yet can also be disturbing.

The editing techniques he uses also evoke that feeling of uneasiness. In his short film Historia Naturae objects move about in a way that has a rhythm, yet still manages to be unpredictable, such as alternating quickly between two objects, or making the object change direction several times suddenly.

Initial Research:

There are no books documenting his personal life so I set out to find any information I could on his life, including interviews, articles on the internet, I also managed to find a timeline of the major events in his life, which were lined up against political events that were happening at the time. This timeline was really helpful for giving me an outline to work with but I felt that I needed more information about his personal life so I tried researching deeper into certain things that caught my attention.

Watching a documentary (les chimères des svankmajer) based on him and his wife Eva helped me to get an idea of Jan Svankmajer’s mannerisms and personality, even though I didn’t end up depicting Jan or Eva apart from in small photos.

I also found a diary he had made during the filming of Little Otik which was really interesting as it gave an insight into his work process when creating a film.

Through reading various interviews and articles on Jan Svankmajer I found out that he had to go to eating camps as a child, which I found really interesting as a lot of his films contain food and I even remember reading that he considers it to be an obsession of his. I also found out that whilst growing up he was also scared of the cellar and felt like leaving home whenever his mother asked him to fetch potatoes or coal.

Deciding what to include and convey:

Something I really struggled with on this project was knowing what to include and what not to include. I really wanted to include some events from his childhood because he stated himself that childhood is a big part of his work. “” I also wanted to get a balance of showing his career and  personal life.

Censorship seems to be a big part of his past too, as an artist working in Czechslovakia at the time of the Prague Spring. A few of his films during that time were interfered with by the authorities and after refusing to cooperate when The Castle of Otranto was interfered with, he was even banned from filmmaking for 7 years.

Another thing that seemed an important thing to convey was that he worked in a lot of different mediums. He has created plays, short films, feature lengths, and during the time he was banned from film he created pottery with Eva and also started his tactile experiments.

A lot of his work seems to have a tactile quality to it and I would like to show this through the materials I use when illustrating his life story.

Tenby sketches