COVID-19 2021

Following the considerable success of Ruth Ducker’s round robin animation project last year (Isolation Animation), Ruth got back in touch for part two! This time, rather than a continuous stream of animation that continued from the last frame of the section before – this time there were no rules! Well, nearly no rules… we were asked to use a limited colour palette which Ruth provided. The same palette was given to each animator. I found this a little tougher than the last challenge  – as when I’m given complete freedom – I tend to panic – and then I freeze.

Your section must be inspired by the theme “Inside filled with hope and joy” – Ruth Ducker

After what felt like an age of procrastination I decided to charge head with no real idea about what I was making.

My lockdowns (there have been three to date in the UK) were spent living in my flat above the local Spar shop in West Bay, Dorset. I feel so fortunate to be in such a beautiful part of the work, just a few minutes walk from the sea which I regularly like to take a dip in. I work from home, so work stayed pretty much the same as it ever was –  I really did feel luckier than most!  I found myself smoking roll-ups and staring out of an open window that over looks West Bay Road. It was so quiet, normally there’s a very busy stream of steady traffic flowing to and from the harbour. But in the lockdowns, especially lockdown one – after the Spar had closed in the evening – it was deathly quiet. I’d find myself staring into the distance reminiscing about all the good times, all the adventures, the travelling the festivals, my friends, my children – all of it. Because all the fun stuff had stopped.

I wanted to reflect this in my piece and set about looking for random recordings on my phone, extracting the sound and editing it together to create a soundscape of blurry memories. I didn’t want it to be too literal – so I just jumped in and decided to let the sounds lead me. 

Meanwhile, one of the most joyful things I witnessed outside of my window in early May through June in 2020 was a vixen and her cubs that liked to come to play in the street. She would roll over and let the cubs suckle (they were tiny, they could hardly walk!) and they would bounce around  like lambs, ever so occasionally a car or a person would pass and the foxes would slip away into the cover of night but after just a few minutes they’d soon be back. I think they liked the hot tarmac, the weather was glorious and the street light illuminated them well. As it turned out she returned most nights around 10pm almost without fail and I would watch them play and grow, whilst remembering so fondly of all the fun things I couldn’t do anymore. I even began to worry for them, half expecting them to end up as road kill – they never did thank goodness. I never did get around to making that fox crossing for them! 

So that’s the inspiration, I managed to capture the vixen and her cubs on my phone. The quality was terrible but I decided to use the actual footage and add it to my section of the animation. I wanted the animation to feel hopeful, gentle and calm and quiet –  whilst also keeping it strange and other worldly. I tried to convey the passing of time and the days merging into one. But in the end it was all about the foxes for me and the joy and hope they gave me – totally oblivious to the our plight, just living each moment as it came. 

I enjoyed the challenge and I very much look forward to seeing the finished collaboration. I’m not sure I hit the brief exactly but Ruth has assured me I did.

Thanks again Ruth for making this happen. It was fun to play!


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