Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Richard Williams celebrates 80 animated years - at the Edinburgh Festival

My father is 80 years old this year. He doesn't look it. He still draws every day, working as passionately as ever on animation he describes as "the best work I've ever done". This single-minded commitment to doing the best possible work is part of the reason why his public appearances are pretty rare. Luckily for the rest of us, the Edinburgh Festival has managed to persuade him to put down his blackwing pencil and come and do a Q&A. Anyone who would like to hear him talk about his work in animation over the last 60 years will have a chance to buy tickets to a special screening and retrospective at the Edinburgh Festival on Saturday 29th June.

The Festival is showing a selection of Dad's short films, including many of my favourites - A Christmas CarolLove Me Love Me Love Me, and his most recent film - Circus Drawings, which took a record-breaking 50 years to complete.
Circus Drawings - fifty years in the making
The Festival is also screening the best of his commercials, titles and various clips from feature films, the very best of the work he did at his studio at No 13 Soho Square for many decades. It's the work I grew up with, the stuff I adored as a kid - and it still holds up today.
A Christmas Carol - 1973
The commercials are wonderful. It must have been tough to make a selection; the studio did literally thousands of them over 25 years, winning more awards than they could ever count. Prizes lined the stairwell at the studio, a kind of metallic 3D wallpaper ascending all the way up to the Ink and Paint department on the top floor.

Cresta Bear, The Nine Lives Cat, the Chicago Bird Ad - they are all hugely imaginative and funny. Excellent ideas brought to life by brilliant animation. One, an advert for an oil company, is as close to an animated Turner painting as you'll ever get. Another is an animated version of a Renaissance painting of cherubs (by Raphael I think) narrated by Kenneth Williams (who did tons of voice-overs), and advertising baby wipes - magnificently absurd. Dad always said he hated doing commercials, but I can't help thinking he must have had a good deal of fun along the way.

Dad will be doing a short Q and A at the end. You can find out more information from the official website here.


(Editor's Note:  If you can't make it to Edinburgh, don't worry, the Bristol Encounters Festival will be running the same programme in September. More news on that in the coming weeks.)

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