Monday, 13 April 2009

Simon Warner

A Shadow meets his Maker. Simon Warner.

Dear Simon Warner,

Hi! My name is Sarah Frost and im on my final Year of an illustration degree at Stockport College HE.

I was told about your work through a friend at Salford University, I think you had come into give a talk there.

I absolutely adore your work, especially the 'Fallow a Shadow' exhibition and the work you did at the Bronte Parsonage (which is my favorite place in the world). My work at the moment has been heavily influenced by silhouettes, and Ive been trying to make the dive into shadow work, but don't really know, to be honest, what I'm doing. Ive looked a lot at Shadow puppet thearters but dont really now what basic eqiupment i need.

I would love if you could give me any advice? I understand that you will be busy but any information you could give me would be brilliant.

Also, I liked the 'A Light Crescendo' work. I worked as an Art Director at a summer camp in America last year and will be doing it again this year. I would love to do something similar like this with the kids, but we do not have access to a dark room. I'd like them to create there own life size silhouettes and also life size animal and insect ones, and then take them out into the woods at camp and photograph them. I could create the animal and insect ones but i would like their silhouettes to be there own. Would you suggest simply drawing around them?

I know ive asked quite a bit, but as I said before any information and help you could give me would be brilliant!


Sarah Frost

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your email. Your work looks interesting. Beautifully drawn.

I got into silhouettes through an interest in early photography. Silhouette portraiture is so close to photography in some ways, but there seemed to be no historical connection. So I've explored that area. I did work with a shadow puppeteer, Black Cat Theatre, for the Follow a Shadow film. She, Diana Bayliss, lives near here. My Dad was an antique dealer and collected silhouettes and magic lantern slides, so there's another connection there that I'm exploiting.

You might look at Victor Stoichita's book A Short History of the Shadow if you don't know it. Enough leads there for years of work. It's through him that I discovered Lavater. Also check out the Chamisso story Peter Schlemil the Shadowless Man. Again, Robert Lepage, the Canadian theatre guru, made wonderful use of shadows in his show about Hans Christian Anderson a couple of years ago.

I suspect that shadows in general are about to become really fashionable, so keep an eye on what's going on. I seem to think there is something in the Manchester International Festival this summer that sounded relevant. Otherwise, you're probably on the right lines anyway if you can draw and cut out good shapes. You can certainly just draw round figures for your summer camp project. If you're really into photography, you could attempt to use the cyanotype (blue print) process, that only needs water for development and doesn't require darkroom conditions. You can buy the raw chemicals for it from Silverprint in London, and coat your own materials. There's a book about it by Ruth Brown that I got on Amazon.

I hope that is useful.

Best Wishes, and thanks for your kind remarks,
Simon Warner

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