Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman at ACMI, Melbourne

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Wallace & Gromit in their living room set. All photography by Lara Antonelli-Leorke.

The mind boggles and the imagination soars when you think of the intricate, detailed, wonderful, clever and creative processes behind Bristol-based Aardman Studios, creators of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. After four decades of magic – creating characters and stories that have become a part of our culture and collective cherished memories – Aardman is celebrating their fortieth year with an acclaimed exhibition at Melbourne’s ACMI from June 29, 2017.

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As ACMI states, Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman reflects the quirky humour and idiosyncratic charm of the British studio; from sketchbooks, concept drawings and storyboards where the ideas take shape, to the intricate, handmade puppets and sets that enthral audiences young and old.

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Having been personally charmed and mesmerised by the wonder of Aardman’s Claymation feature film, Chicken Run back in 2000, the exhibition is like stepping behind the wizard’s curtain to reveal the secrets behind the magic. And the secret is a lot of hard work, creativity, technical prowess and patience. The sets are ridiculously detailed and awe-inspiring – a whole world of wonder housed within centimetres. Every beautiful set is alive with miniature features that although static, speak volumes and draw you into the scene. Viewing the sets from different perspectives is amazing, as you have the unique opportunity to discover parts of these beloved sets that you may have enjoyed on screen or are uncovering for the first time – such is the intricate detail on display.

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Marvel at the grandiose banquet feast headed by Queen Victoria, Pirate Captain’s quarters or magnificent 5-metre tall pirate ship from The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Wonder at the cosy lounge room, creature infested lab basement, bountiful veggie garden, grandiose Lady Tottington mansion or Reverend Clement’s vicarage from Wallace and Gromit (Curse of the Were-Rabbit).

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Smile at the impossibly detailed set from Shaun the Sheep, as your mind pieces together how lighting, movement, clay models and miniature film equipment come together, with the hands and minds of Aardman creatives, to bring laughter, joy, happiness and quirkiness to your household, and mine, every evening. This wonderful TV show is a testament to Aardman’s ability to touch the hearts of every generation, as both my almost two year-old toddler and just turned 40 year-old husband can sit and laugh uncontrollably whilst watching Shaun and his herd’s adventures on ABC2.

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Curated by Art Ludique-Le Musee in Paris and in close collaboration with Aardman headquarters, the exhibition is now in Melbourne along with studio co-founders David Sproxton and Peter Lord. Both gentlemen are extremely excited to have their phenomenal work, and that of their talented studio creatives, exhibited at ACMI. Lord mentioned that he had first come to ACMI to view David Bowie Is and was thrilled that their exhibition is being shown at Australia’s only national museum of film and digital culture. He was also overjoyed to discover things from the Aardman archives that had long been forgotten, but which can now be enjoyed all over again, by a great many people.

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The exhibition is truly amazing, and includes a space called The Studio, where children and adults alike can create their own clay characters and make a short stop motion animation, inspired by the work of Aardman.

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the making of magic first-hand, with Aardman and ACMI.

The exhibition runs until October 29, 2017. Buy tickets here: https://www.acmi.net.au/events/wallace-and-gromit-and-friends-magic-aardman

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