Shaun the Sheep and Aardman Studios creations star in an exhibition at PAFF! in Pordenone, Italy

The spaces of PAFF! International Musem of Comic Art in Pordenone host from May 12 to Sept. 24, 2023 the exhibition dedicated to characters created by Aardman Studios, such as Shaun the Sheep, Wallacee Gromit, and Hens on the Run.

From May 12 to September 24, 2023, the spaces of PAFF! International Musem of Comic Art in Pordenone will host The Art of Aardman Exhibition, Shaun the Sheep & Friends curated by the museum together with Art Ludique-Le Musée in Paris and in collaboration with Aardman Studios, which of characters such as Wallace and Gromit, the Mossy Bottom Farm animals of Shaun, Sheep’s Life, Hens on the Run and the crew of Pirates - Brigands of Scrabble are the creators. After Paris, Frankfurt, Melbourne and Seoul, the exhibition comes to Pordenone enriched with valuable unpublished works and with a new exhibition layout, aimed at offering the public a journey into the creative universe of Peter Lord and David Sproxton, the minds and souls of Aardman Studios (who between nominations and statuettes have trod the Academy stage four times), through more than thirty film sets.

“Only five years after its opening, PAFF! is now an international benchmark for comics. Its uniqueness lies in the use of comics as a cultural hook and the look at other disciplines in a first-rate quality proposal,” says Giulio De Vita, artistic director of PAFF!, who adds how "with The Art of Aardman Exhibition, Shaun the Sheep & friends we reach the culmination of this journey by opening the gaze from comics to animation from one of the world’s most celebrated and appreciated production companies."

The exhibition traces the story of Peter and David from 1966, when they created their first cartoon as a joke at the age of 12, which they sold for 15 pounds to the BBC, to some of their most iconic stop-motion films, in a journey that describes the entire filmmaking process-a tribute to the artistic genius of the creators who, image by image, brought to life plasticine sculptures that have enchanted and continue to enchant millions of fans of all ages around the world. For the Pordenone stop, the itinerary expands to include some content that can be seen live for the first time, such as parts from the special holiday musical A Robin Named Patty (2021), which was nominated for an Oscar® and BAFTA® award, some of whose drawings and the original puppet will be on view. In addition, it will be possible to see the national premiere of the studio’s newest CGI series Lloyd of the Flies (2022) and the BAFTA®-nominated stop-motion children’s show The Very Small Creatures (2021), which has never been distributed in Italy.

Peter Lord, director, animator, producer and co-founder of Aardman says, “In this exhibition we would like you to pause along the way and share some of our experiences and meet the people whose creativity made this adventure possible. Because the sketches, puppets and sets you will see here are very beautiful objects in themselves.” “Personally,” he adds, “I love stop motion animation. I like its ability to be instinctive and give the impression that I am moving myself. In fact, I will say more, stop motion animation is a live performance. It is the most exciting and challenging activity I know. As you will see in this exhibition, it offers immense joy, in a magical world full of beautiful objects, surrounded by incredible art created and animated by the best artists.”

From the drawing that sees the characters come to life on notebooks, to experimenting with the possible nuances of figures and environments, to the writing work that combines storytelling and depiction, to the sculpting of characters and the construction of sets, the exhibition, thanks to an original set design produced by the museum, reconstructs the rigorous formal journey of the Studios. On display are Wallace’s crackling tools, Gromit’s vegetable garden, the sets of the Shaun the Sheep film, the flying machine of Hens on the Run, the fabulous five-meter-long galleon of Pirates, along with more than four hundred drawings, character and background studies, watercolors, storyboards, and Nick Park’s sketchbook as a student, which contains early drawings of Wallace & Gromit. The Aardman style, defined above all by its attention to certain themes such as the British landscape and nature, the sometimes ingenious and irrational machines, and the architectural settings of imaginative details, is revealed in the virtuosity of prototype making, great manual dexterity, and the pleasure of invention, traits shared by puppets and creative people, both of whom are often engaged in constructing the most unpredictable inventions with their own hands. The magic of cinema enlivens these small worlds thanks to light, the unifying element of film, an integral part of the way a director tells and stages a story, the result of close collaboration between the film and art sections, and the use of a theater-like system to create extremely precise effects by which light structures and moves space.

To show how the result is arrived at on the screen, the exhibit also includes a set design from the film Shaun, Sheep’s Life, created especially by lighting technicians from the Aardman studio for this occasion, which allows visitors to observe the importance of light in the making of stop-motion films. Also on display are numerous audiovisual contents that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the creative dimension of the studio, with excerpts from the studio’s most famous films, more than sixty short and feature films, commercials and video clips.

With Shaun the Sheep & Friends, PAFF! opens its doors in its new guise as the International Museum of Comic Art, featuring 2,200 square meters of exhibition space and a permanent collection with boards by iconic masters and cartoonists of the ninth art.

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Image: Credit Aardman Animations LTD 2023

Shaun the Sheep and Aardman Studios creations star in an exhibition at PAFF! in Pordenone, Italy
Shaun the Sheep and Aardman Studios creations star in an exhibition at PAFF! in Pordenone, Italy

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