Documentary Animation Students Delve into the Wellcome Collection

First year Animation students on the Documentary Animation pathway have taken part in a project investigating the Wellcome Library, one of the world's major resources for the study of medical history, using the tools and skills of moving image practices. This is the second year the project has run, providing an opportunity for Documentary Animation students to work in a situated way, responding to the Wellcome Collection’s remit to engage audiences with ideas around the history and cultures of health, and making creative and sensitive use of the Collection's materials.


Reflecting on the project, Danny Birchall, Creative Projects Manager at Wellcome said: ‘For Wellcome Collection, working with the RCA’s documentary animation students offers us inspiring and fresh ways of seeing our own collections, and an understanding of how archival documents and objects can be transformed through the creative vision of artists. For the second year running RCA students working with the moving image have produced an exciting variety of new perspectives on science, medicine, life and art. It’s also been a great deal of fun for us working with the students as they dive into our collections, and watching their ideas develop into films.’

Professor Teal Triggs, Acting Head of Programme MA Animation, commented: ‘We are very excited about the breadth of films which have resulted from this unique opportunity for our MA Animation students to work directly with the Wellcome Collection in exploring ideas on the history and cultures of health. Our students have benefited immensely from being introduced to the ways in which collections may inform how we come to understand our place in the world. We are grateful to colleagues at the Wellcome Collection for giving their time and support so generously.’

The students were asked to identify a focus of interest among the Collection's materials, which range from posters and paintings to personal and institutional archives, printed books and packaging ephemera. They were given the freedom to choose their own theme, but took into consideration the current interests of the Collection through discussions with its representatives, including Danny Birchall and Wellcome Library librarian Lalita Klapish, who provided guidance for further research.

The students’ individual responses took many manifestations, from screen-based to expanded forms such as interactive and installation projects. They made use of documentary conventions, but also hybridised these with fictional and abstract modes, and incorporated live action and still image alongside animation.

In January, students pitched their concepts to the Wellcome Collection, which awarded prizes to the proposals that resonated the most with the Wellcome's remit and current areas of interest. Winners of the pitch awards were Emily Downe and Maria Piva. All the students then pursued their projects, realising them over the course of the spring term. The finished projects were screened at Wellcome on 5 June, where one was selected for the Completion award of £500.

Students participating in the project this year were:
Caitlin Young, Emily Downe, Freddie Griffiths, Gemma Green-Hope, Kathrin Steinbacher, Maria Piva, Mariya Ilieva, Qiyue Yang, Rosa Fisher, Xiaoqing Sun and Zehong Zhu.


Find out more about MA Animation at the RCA and how to apply.