This year’s Playback Festival brings together over 300 short films made by young artist filmmakers from across England. Among them is Grace Lee, an artist working across animation, drawing and painting who graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths in 2017. We spoke to Grace about how she got started in animation, and what inspired her to make The Baths, a clip of which you can watch below.
“I’ve always loved the process of animation and first started by making very basic (by which I mean really bad) animations in MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker soon after my family got our first computer when I was about seven years old.
“I gradually improved my software and drawing tools, and I made a few short films for art projects in school. At university, I moved away from narrative film for a while and worked on some small looping animations. These are much faster to do, and it avoided dedicating a whole year of my degree to one piece of work. When I saw the ICA were doing an open call for film proposals I was very excited to try something longer again.
“The idea for The Baths first came from visiting my friend’s studio at Goldsmiths, in a building that used to be a public swimming pool. A lot of the original structures are still there, like the cubicles and the balcony, and I always felt a strange melancholy when I was there. There’s something about repurposed buildings that seems strangely sad, as if the ghost of their former purpose is still here. It reminded me of a place I visited several times as a child. My family used to go on holiday in Matlock Bath.
“I don’t know why, but for a while in my early childhood this was a yearly occurrence. It’s a strange place in itself, with a lot to do with fairy tales and witchcraft, but there’s an aquarium there (which is attached to a hologram museum, another quirk of the town), and at the back there’s an abandoned swimming pool that’s been turned into a big Koi Pond. We always went at night and there’s no ceiling on the building, so my memory is of this dark, decaying structure that was once something quite grand – and now there are fish there.
“It’s not exactly a sad place, and I don’t think my film is exactly a sad film, but there’s something sad there anyway. This was what I wanted to explore, those feelings of loss, nostalgia and longing – and fish in a swimming pool.”
Playback is a joint initiative between Arts Council England and Channel 4 aimed at developing young people’s skills and providing them with entry points to the arts and creative industries.
All 300 plus short films at Playback Festival were made as part of a joint initiative between Arts Council England and Channel 4 Random Acts, and have been touring the country for the past year as part of the Playback Exhibition. The film offer a snapshot of a national experience and reveal the power of film in a changing world.
Playback Festival is entirely free and takes place at ICA London between 21-25 March. Some events are sold out, but you can still grab tickets from the ICA website. Keep updated via @ICALondon and #Playback2018
Published 20 Mar 2018
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