After all the celebrations of the 10th Birthday of The Lightbox, we thought we’d refresh on the gallery’s very first opening exhibition, Aardman’s Animation Adventures – about the co-creators of everyone’s favourite plasticine friends, Wallace & Gromit. 

Interactivities at the exhibition

Creative wunderkinds, David Sproxton and Peter Lord, are former Woking Grammar School boys who began experimenting with simple animation when they were barely teenagers, using a Bolex 16mm camera, a piece of equipment that, if made before 1960, used a spring-wound clockwork power system.

Paillard Bolex 16mm camera (c) LNP Media Group Inc.

Sproxton and Lord would create cartoons for the school magazine, before making one-minute "shorts" about a simply-modelled character called Morph, interspersed throughout 70s BBC show Take Hart. In the 80s, Nick Park (creator of Wallace & Gromit) joined the duo, who were now Aardman Animations Ltd., and together they brought us family favourites like ‘Chicken Run’ (2000), Oscar-winning 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' (2005) and their first computer-generated film ‘Flushed Away’ in 2006.

However, before the age of Digital Animation and Computer Graphics, the world of stop motion filming, or Claymation, was a highly laborious technique. Hand-crafted objects are moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, and create the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played in a fluid sequence.

...Here's a snapshot from the exhibition...

Video of the Aardman Animations Adventures opening exhibition at The Lightbox gallery & museum, Woking.
(c) Arnaud Amiel

Director Marilyn Scott and then-exhibition manager Hamish MacGillivray with a display from the exhibition at The Lightbox (2007).

The Aardman guys also created the rock video ‘Sledgehammer’ for Peter Gabriel’s number one single in 1986 – another local link as Peter Gabriel (who originally founded the rock group Genesis and wrote all the music to the Millennium Festival at the Dome) lived in Chobham and went to St Andrews school in Horsell in the 50s and 60s.

The Lightbox opening exhibition included behind the scenes material from the Shaun the Sheep series, 'Hut 17' from Chicken Run, and a range of hands-on material to allow visitors of all ages to engage with the exhibit. Workshops were also run where families had loads of fun making their own clay models.

Pause for thought - in the lifetime of The Lightbox, if you were to make a Claymation film using the traditional methods the Aardman guys used, you'd have only just finished a 40 minute production!

Click here for all the exciting upcoming exhibitions at The Lightbox.

Aardman co-founder David Sproxton with Morph at The Lightbox