I saw a lovely picture by Degas called “Standing Man in a Bowler Hat” and decided that the camera man should adorn his head with such a dapper item. Bowler hats were very popular and practical in victorian times, adding protection style and warmth. I wish I had one.
A Camera Man takes a picture for the Pilot Members Club
The opening scene starts in an abstract way looking through the lens of an early victorian camera. The subject a group of sailors posing for their annual Pilot Members Club photograph appear upside down. Early cameras were like small Camera Obscuras. Light traveled in through the lens and projected an upside down image of whatever was in front of it. The camera man instructs the restless Pilots in where to stand and how to pose.
The research period was completed a few weeks back leading me to the most exciting and daunting part, ‘the creative process’. My proposal was green lighted and given the thumbs up so now it’s about pulling it all together and diving head first into the animation production. I haven’t talked in any great length regarding the wealth of resources uncovered by the Grangetown Local History Society and archivists from Glamorgan Archives and Parliamentary Archives, but the whole concept is based on the documents and photographs which they have worked long and hard collecting and deciphering. In a nutshell the animation depicts the changing landscape of the docks throughout the Victorian era and the plight of the humble Pilot Cutter David Morse who gave evidence in parliament in favor of its development.
I’ve been referencing paintings of the Marques of Bute to achieve a likeness and at the same time find a style that works as a whole for the project. This style needs to be carried through to all characters so that there is unity and balance. Helen picked out an amazing old photograph from a local history book of Pilots posing in their Sunday best wearing what looks like Russian hats. It is such a cool picture that I will try and use the original in the film if permission is granted. Until then I will be using illustrations based on these characters.
Researching at Glamorgan Archives with the Grangetown Local History Society.
An animation teacher many years ago called this research period ‘Filling the Well’. Without it you are dry of ideas, but with a well full to the brim ideas flow with ease and great work can be achieved. So what have I been filling my well with? Not being local to Cardiff or an expert on its history I have collaborated with others to fill gaps in my knowledge and experience. The team consisting of the Grangetown Local History Society and archivists from Glamorgan Archives and Parliamentary Archives have been a great help in steering me through a sea of information, including documents, photographs, letters, maps etc. Some of the highlights have been photographic records from the Victorian period depicting everyday scenes on the docks. You get a sense of how busy the docks were and the rate in which the population of Cardiff expanded in such a short time frame. The inhabitants came from all over relocating to Cardiff to work as laborers or from distant shores working on the merchant ships. Cardiff was and still is a multicultural City.
Merchant Seafarer’s War Memorial sculpture by Brian Fell. Photographed by Tony Hisgett 2008
Walking along Cardiff bay you can’t help but be reminded of its rich history. Art and heritage isn’t a new concept here, but rather something that is celebrated and openly engaged with. I look at Brian Fells Merchant Seafarer’s War Memorial and the power that it encompasses. Cardiff has raised the bar high for all future artists to follow. Not only do we need to be creative, but we also need to engage the public with awe and wonderment.
My first week of the project working with Glamorgan Archives and the Grangetown Local History Society has been exciting researching artifacts from the 1800’s, reading letters, area maps and looking at old photographs. There is so much to explore and so many possibilities.