Laurie Avon x William Blake’s Universe

March 2024

Kicking the year off strong, Laurie Avon brought the Cambridge based, Fitzwilliam Museum’s latest exhibition, “William Blake’s Universe”, to life through his ditinctive illustration style and animation with the help of his friend and animator, Peter Chownsmith.

Laurie Avon Illustration
Delving deeper into Blake’s universe, Laurie and Pete dreamt up visuals that showcase a constellation of European artists seeking spirituality in their lives and art in response to war, revolution and political turbulence.

Their animation accompanies the works on display and acts as an animated infographic to explore Blake’s boundless imagination in the context of wider trends and themes in European art including Romanticism, Mysticism and ideas of Spiritual regeneration. Whilst also depicting the key figures at play.

Laurie Avon IllustrationFor this film Laurie and Pete developed a new, shared practice to bring Laurie’s designs to life and to honour the spirit and influence of William Blake and his contemporaries.

On the project Pete has said – “We were inspired by the classic animation work of Terry Gilliam as part of Monty Python. We translated his physical paper-cut techniques across to a modern digital workflow and process. Laurie’s designs and compositions were painstakingly dissected into their individual elements (including breaking characters into their constituent parts) and then taking them into the realm of motion within After Effects.

The goal was to achieve an immersive and informative film, that while made entirely digitally, took the viewer back visually to a time of parchment, candle-light and political turmoil. We developed our own animated textures, reduced the frame rates of our shots, and brought in visual influence from the era whilst staying consistently in Laurie’s own distinctive illustrative style. The resulting film feels like an illustrated manuscript being drawn out before your eyes.”

Delving deeper into the illustrative style, Laurie has said – “…the style of illustration has a graphic handmade, textured and print inspired style, with the recurring use of etching style lines adding detail and guiding the viewer around the ‘astral map’ of Blake’s influence.

We used decorative details to frame specific scenes: which take inspiration from Blake’s work – for example his use of doorways, ladders and stairs as graphic narrative tools. The etching lines and 18th-century referenced fonts and borders will contextually communicate the period – with the colour making it feel contemporary

I have an array of faux-real paintbrushes, ink and paper textures that I utilise from project to project, and in this case they add an organic, tactile and timely feel to the animation”

You can see Laurie and Pete’s animation in person at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, in ‘William Blake’s Universe’ until 19th May 2024.

Check out Laurie’s full portfolio – here and Pete’s can be seen – here.

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