Cartoon Saloon

Gallery_Desktop_5_downloadI am not sure what I love more about Cartoon Saloon, the movies, or the story behind the studio. You see, everyone in art school talks about joining up and working on a passion project together. You know, the type that no one else has done before, something new, exciting, and unique. Something only the young can dream up. But then you graduate, get crappy jobs, sometimes some good jobs, girlfriends/boyfriends, move states, new jobs, wives/husbands, new houses, new friends, etc, etc, etc. Then you wake up, and realize those people you were going to work with, well, you have not even talked to them in a decade. You see, here’s the crazy thing about the crew at Cartoon Saloon, they actually did it. They followed their dreams, they stuck together from art school on up, and they worked their butts off on their dream project, and worked on other jobs to pay the bills. In the end, they finished their film, Secret of Kells, which only took ten years to complete. Turns out the artistic side was not as complicated as the business side. But there is a learning curve for everything.  Seeing how they now have a hat trick or Oscar nominations, with the same amount of entries is beyond amazing. Hats off to Tom Moore, Paul Young, and Nora Twomey.

The trio has released three feature length films, all done in Kilkenny Ireland. Yeah, I know, crazy to think that they are doing it in this little city in the middle of Ireland. The Secret of Kells and the Song of the Sea are both Irish based in Ireland, mixing Irish history, mythology, and culture in gorgeous movies. They have also worked on hit series like Puffin Rock, which anyone with a toddler will be very familiar with.

With their latest release, The Breadwinner, coming out in Irish theaters on May 25, things are starting to heat up here in Ireland. Sure, for my American friends, it has already hit theaters, but I am no longer on that side of the Atlantic, so I had to wait. To celebrate the Irish release, Cartoon Saloon and the Butler Gallery/Kilkenny Castle partnered up with an exhibition on the animation process for the Breadwinner, and was it ever beautiful. Besides the fact you are walking through a stunning castle to see the show, you are giving a gorgeous paper cutout mask right at the entrance.

I am not kidding this is one of the best exhibitions on animation that I have come across in ages, and I consider myself a student of animation.

The first room introduces you to the characters of the breadwinner, and some of the basic concepts.

Then the next room you go into the various stages of animation; backgrounds, layouts, character design, and much more. They were all done on wooden pillars, allowing you to move through the process.

Then you get to a 7-point video display in a room decorated in afghan rugs for sitting, making a very cozy projection room. The videos went through everything from the trailer, interviews with the director, Nora Twomey, some of the voice actors, process, and a special look into the cut out paper animation technique that was used.

To end it all on a fun note for the whole family was a room dedicated to making paper sculpture’s, with all the tools needed. Skylar loved punching out stars and gluing them together to make her own brilliant design.  And in case you needed some inspiration there is a fine selection of gorgeous hand made paper sculptures framed around the room. Lots of cool elephant motifs.

I am really looking forward to seeing the Breadwinner in a few weeks. It’s wonderful to see a studio still using the hand drawn techniques that have been around for over a 100 years. Not only do they use old style techniques, but they really delve in to a culture. I was lucky enough to see the Song of the Sea in Irish with a massive crowd of Irish students. It was a wonderful experience, and to see how captivated these kids were with the film was great. For the Breadwinner, they used an Arabic cast for the voices. They delved deep into the culture to tell a heartfelt story. It’s not just about telling a good story, it’s about presenting a true cultural experience.

So if you are in the Kilkenny area, pop by the Butler Gallery to check out a wonderful exhibition on animation. You will learn about the process that goes into all films you see and go out and see the Breadwinner, and tell me what you think.

Butler Gallery, The Castle, Kilkenny tel. +353 (0)56 7761106 email.
Open Daily/Free Admission

Exhibition continues until July 29th 2018

Open 10am – 5.30pm Daily

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