15 Apr 2022

Artist statement about animations for Cornish Life Stories - WWII film

Artist statement from animator Maria Majkowska.

Watch the film here.

It was a great pleasure to work on the Cornish Life Stories project with Barbara Santi. Memories are such an interesting subject to explore with animation, so when I heard that the project would be animating oral history I was intrigued. Of course, I had to do it.

There's a multitude of ways in which you can picture a memory - we all think and remember differently - but the one unchanging thing is the subjective and fleeting nature of our memories. It's fuzzy around the edges and faded, some parts are clearer than the others, at times it becomes sharper, and then slowly, over time it dissipates. I'd hoped to create animations that would partially capture this intangible and dream-like quality of our memories.

In my work, I tend to like experimenting with multilayered more heavily textured looks, either working with traditional media or recreating them digitally. For this project, which was done digitally, I opted to go with a more delicate, yet still layered look. With boiling lines and pictures appearing and disappearing seamlessly, one thing turning into another, and the sketch-like quality of the visuals I wanted the style to reflect Beryl's childhood memories. The design itself is very simplified and childlike, the use of pencil textures and crayons aims to highlight that while the war took place Beryl was just a little girl. The finished animations were overlayed with a boiling texture to create a paper-like feel and give them an almost aged quality to reflect on the historical aspects of the project.

The Cornish Life Stories were commissioned by the Museum of Cornish Life so maintaining historical accuracy was of huge importance. Working on the animations, meant trying to strike the balance between picturing memories of a then little girl and very specific conditions of life in Cornwall during the war, to keep the stylized visuals grounded in reality and historically accurate.

In the design process, a lot of inspiration was taken from archival pictures from the 1940s and photographs of the museum's exhibitions kindly provided by Barbara. It was important that, while the animations would remain minimalist and rather stylized, they were indeed based in reality in order to work with the rest of the film. Details such as the way soldiers' boots look or big white name tags stuck to the evacuee children's coats and jackets needed to come through.

Concepts 2
Concepts 3