There’s something so reminiscent about puppeteering, whether it’s memories of watching the Clangers or Bagpuss, being a bit terrified of Punch & Judy, or just making your own sock puppets at home. Manchester Metropolitan student Eva Åkesson has managed to capture this feeling of nostalgia, but with her own contemporary twist.
Eva’s fascination with stop-motion began at a young age: “My first introduction to stop-motion was by my secondary school art teacher and since then I’ve developed a passion for it. I am a lover of nature and collect materials whilst out walking my dog; bones or feathers etc, I try to be resourceful,” she explains. A natural aesthetic is evident throughout her work, consistently using wood tones, cloth materials and an organic range of colours. Concentrating on puppet making is a new direction for Eva, surprising for how accomplished her work appears, “I only really started this year as I branched off down the animation pathway on my course, it allowed me to experiment a lot more. I had made marionettes in the past but making puppets for stop-motion was completely new for me. I’ve always been able to craft quite well, mimicking things. I tried taxidermy for a while, a lot of my early work was on the sculptural side.”
Honing in on this style of animation is quite a rare talent to acquire, but this is what attracted Eva to it. “I have always loved the old style of animation, it has more charm to it, it’s good to see it making a bit of a comeback. Mostly it’s the process that I enjoy and the development of a project over a number of weeks. Then, when the project comes together it really pays off to see your character moving and coming to life, it’s quite magical and rewarding.”
Not quite knowing how the outcome will materialise is also part of the appeal for Eva. “The skill set you develop is really varied, you have to challenge yourself to work with different materials. Not everything works how you expect either, it can be quite frustrating at times. I think I’ve spent more time repairing the characters than actually making them. Patience is also key, you spend a long time making the characters but it takes even longer to film them, it is a real labour of love.”
Eva is only just going into her final year of studying illustration and animation and plans to continue making films, “I have just made a Yeti puppet with a very small head that is in need of a story.” She is additionally learning how to make her puppets speak so that she can lip-sync them. We can’t wait to hear what they have to say!
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