I started my research for this project during the summer break when I began reading Jorge Louis Borges's 'Book of Imaginary Beings', a magical book filled with weird and wonderful mythical creatures. I was torn between 'Baldanders' and the 'Banshee' as they both were great characters, however I decided on the 'Banshee' as the character could be portrayed as beautifully elegant or evil and sinister which appealed to me and I wanted to try something different.
The Banshee has connections to witchcraft, paganism and magic and already I was bursting with ideas, so I began creating a 'Sense of Place' sketch book that would show the world it lived in and the things it liked along with the characters that would also live there.
I began looking at images connected to the above and started making a small witches altar, tarot cards, a wicker stick and a spell book filled with strange diagrams that were sourced from a book I found in the library on 'Alchemy & Mysticism'.
Here are some images that inspired me...
Legend has it that the Banshee makes a high pitched 'keeling' sound when they are angry or if death takes places, So I decided that the expression on the Banshee's face would be sinister, dramatic and scary, it's hair would be wild, big and demonstrate movement, it would have a evil look and a open mouth as if it was screaming/keeling!. I also looked at 'Hybridity' and Monsters as points of reference.
I also looked at Pagan Symbols as I am really interested in them and felt that it fitted in with the theme perfectly. I have recently been given some flat pebbles from Bulgaria and thought I would paint them white with the Pagan Symbols in black to make them stand out. They worked really well and I used them to form part of the setting and I also animated them to give them a magical/surreal character.
During research I also looked at old books of Churches and Gothic style stained glass windows, I began cutting and pasting images to create surreal looking Churches into my 'Sense of Place' sketchbook. The images were in black and white so I decided to use vibrant felt tip pens and coloured sections of the stained glass windows to inject some colour as the characters are all in black and I felt the contrast works well.
I worked to A3 scale in my 'Sense of Place' sketchbook, I then enlarged them to A1/A2 and backed them with a stern card and cut them out to create parts of the set.
I wanted a creepy feel for the setting, So I looked at dark creepy woods, midnight skies and moons for ideas.
I decided on painting a simple back drop of a large moon with a creepy eye, dark blue night sky and black woods. I also made a tree prop from found branches and leaves which I painted black and glue gunned together.
I have always loved Chrissie McDonald's way of working as she uses found random parts and almost lets the integrity of the material create the character.
I decided to make my characters from old barbie dolls, farm animals, odd parts, rubber dinosaurs and monster toys found in charity shops. I made sure I used the most appropriate materials to create the characters, for example the Banshee's were made like Hybrids, to create a surreal, scary feel and were painted all in black for a sinister feel with white scary eyes to create contrast. Other creatures such as the Shird and Sorsee are more gentle, tame and friendly, The Shird is half bird and half goat and I used fluffy feathers to add a sift feel, The Sorsee is surreal looking but has a warm, happy face to show his gentle side. I will be posting finished video soon, All feedback welcome!.