AboutThe Tempest | 19 November 2011 - 8 January 2012
Virginia Head is an artist and film-maker. Her practice encompasses drawing, installation and animated film. Virginia has exhibited all over Wales, projecting her films in galleries, at live music events and at international animation festivals. In 2006 she was runner up in the Welsh Artist of the Year award at St David's Hall, Cardiff with her film Pelegrina, a musical journey depicting the life of an unusual stringed instrument.
In 2010 Virginia Head worked for seven months alongside the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra to produce an animation in response to Sibelius' Prelude to the Tempest. The music was chosen by the artist after hearing it for the first time at the suggestion of the conductor of the orchestra, Michael Bell.
Virginia was granted special permission to spend time drawing directly from life at the Cardiff Philharmonic's rehearsals during which she began to develop concepts for her film. Her observations led her to make extensive studies of the interplay between the conductor and the musicians which she then interpreted into animated sequences. Sibelius' intense and dramatic score was inspirational to the colour, mood and pace of the animation.
Virginia also acknowledges the influence of two great romantic landscape artists, William Turner and Caspar David Friedrich on her film. The solitary figure of man confronted by the enormity of Nature refers to Shakespeare's character, Prospero, who in the play conjures up the storm, and also to the conductor whose role it is to keep the musicians in time and harmony.
The techniques Virginia used to make this animation are varied: Working directly under camera the fluid landscapes were created by a method of application and erasure of pastels on textured paper whereby the tactile quality of the materials is visible. The figurative sequences are choreographed in time with the music by drawing each tiny movement individually on separate sheets of paper. These two elements were then digitally layered and edited together.
Virginia made several thousand drawings, water-colours and pastel âmovements' whilst listening to the music repeatedly in order to tap into the wonder and fear that Sibelius' Tempest evokes. Watching the orchestra at work has givenVirginiavaluable insight into the nuances of tone, tempo and colour brought to us in each live performance. She hopes her animation compliments and echoes those nuances and adds another layer to the piece.
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