Incredible skill and artistry can be found here in the local animation industry, from rising stars to seasoned masters. The Melbourne International Animation Festival (13–21 July 2019) celebrates outstanding work from around the world, along with the best homegrown talent.
These three Australian animators are leaving their mark on the artform. Explore their work below or on the big screen in the Festival.
Lee Whitmore is an autobiographical animator making intensely personal and honest work. Drawing stories from memories of her life, family and childhood, Lee invites us into intimate moments, rich in nostalgia. Never particularly taken with comics or cartoons, it was after watching The Street animated by Caroline Leaf (a tale of loss) that Lee was inspired to consider the medium.
“I suddenly realised animations can be about real life too.”
Lee’s hand-drawn techniques, such as paint on glass, watercolour and line drawing, create a loose and whimsical style that is distinctly her own. Her work has been shown around the world and has won numerous awards. She has created animated sequences for the feature films Breathing Under Water (1990) and Looking for Alibrandi (2000) and shown at Sydney Film Festival (2006 and 2019), Annecy International Animation Film Festival (1997) and Hiroshima International Film Festival (1998).
Lee’s 2018 award-winning animated short, Sohrab and Rustum, screened in the MIAF Australian Showcase.
A newcomer to the Australian animation scene, Caroline Jiang presents a unique storytelling voice in her vivid hand-drawn 2D cartoons. Caroline has already produced fantastic work during her animation degree at VCA that has set her apart.
Inspired by science fiction, horror and romantic movies, her shorts are haunted with a quiet sense of foreboding. Morphing flesh, parasitic growths, dripping blood, wriggly bugs and gloomy cityscapes are offset by gentle, vulnerable protagonists.
“I steal the little mementos of things that are interesting to me in my day-to-day life and try cramming them into my scenes. I just want to make movies that look delicious, but also a little off-putting and weird.”
Despite this, Caroline says her movies revolve around love – which she finds both kind and terrifying in its different forms.
“I use emotions or moments I've felt strongly about at the time as an anchor to my stories.”
For horror with heart, Caroline is an animator to watch.
Robots in Paradise (2018) screened in the MIAF Australian Showcase.
Paul Fletcher is a restless, prolific experimenter and innovator who has been creating music, short film and animation for many years. His personal art practice is vast and – in truth – better known overseas than in Australia.
Paul first experimented with analogue electronics such as super 8 film cameras, home-made instruments and hacked reel-to-reel recorders in his final years of high school. Since then, digital technologies have allowed him greater improvisation and spontaneity along with the ability to rework, edit and refine. The DIY attitude of 1980s punk remains a strong influence, no matter the tools. Now a master in the field, Paul has a substantial body of experimental animation that is as intriguing as it is beautiful.
“I value the creating of time and space to reveal and illuminate the dark and the joyous, the quiet and relaxed, the noisy and energetic.”
Paul’s many animated and experimental films have been screened locally and internationally, including TecnoBunny (1995) and Pop Psychology (2014) at Ars Electronica. His animation Drive To Work won best Site Specific Installation at Zagreb MSU Animafest 2017. He is currently a Lecturer in Animation, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, VCA School of Film & Television, University of Melbourne.
A retrospective of his work, Paul Fletcher: Australian Master, screens on Sunday 21 July.