Spellbinding Start!

International Director Wows Falmouth Animators!

Barry in full flow!

As our students arrived back to Falmouth for the start of the new academic year they were treated to a spellbinding keynote lecture from the legendary polymath, director, animator, writer and actor Barry Purves.

In a packed theatre Barry entertained the assembled throng of eager students to a three hour info-packed talk which ranged from Shakespeare, ballet, opera, Trump and Mars Attacks! The theme of his lecture was ideas around "Forget about reality.. all art is artifice"

Barry is best known for his work in stop motion, with a career spanning nearly forty years. He spoke at length about his beginnings at the Manchester based studio Cosgrove Hall, famous for productions like ‘Danger Mouse’, ‘Count Duckula’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’. There was a sense of the uncanny for Barry as he was staying in the Greenbanks Hotel in Falmouth, where Kenneth Grahame started work on the stories that became 'Wind in the Willow', and outside Barry's room hung of Shepherd's original drawings of Mr Toad. 

Indeed it was on ‘Wind in the Willows’ that Barry cut his teeth before forming his own production company Bare Boards where he produced the Oscar nominate ‘Gilbert & Sullivan – The Very Models’ and ‘Next’ – a film that captures every Shakespeare play in seven minutes. Barry carefully went through the film breaking it down shot by shot as an exercise in semiotics.

A contemplative Mr Purves.

Barry also talked about his career which has encompassed working on Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’, with Tim Burton on ‘Mars Attacks!’, of his commercials, short films, love of masks, puppetry, ballet, tango and opera and his work as a theatre director with his latest production ‘Ladies In Lavender’, ironically set in Cornwall. But above all for him Barry impressed on our students the importance of story saying that "as storytellers we must find devices that allow us to talk honestly". Sage advice indeed.

And as the lecture wound to a close Barry left three nuggets of advice for our fledgling animators. Firstly he suggested to them that they  "keep the films simple" and "don’t have too many clever things". And looking back on his career he said that it had never felt like a job, that it had been years of fun, and for our animators to "enjoy it, it’s better than plumbing". Thanks Barry we'll remember that next time we have a leaky tap!

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