From Sticks and Stones to the Wild Folk Awaken

Bringing the Wild Man of Belsay Hall to life through animation

Belsay Awakes is a £6million project delivered over three years (2020-23) aiming to transform a visitor’s experience at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. The project involves crucial conservation and redesign work, in addition to creating a new Wildman themed woodland play area, a new café, outdoor classroom, indoor education base, and fun trails around the grounds. Our students undertake this project to connect with Belsay and its history, and to see it through new eyes as it ‘awakes’.

The Wild Man was used as a symbol of Belsay Castle in the 15th century and for the last 600 years he has watched over the grounds. He appears on the family’s coat of arms on the castle and featured throughout the house, in wall paintings, as a carved stone statue and was even on silver knives and forks. Imagine what the Wild Man would think if he knew he was on the family’s finest cutlery! And what would he make of the way Belsay has changed over the years? What would he desire for Belsay in the future?

In this Animation project, students immerse themselves in the history of Belsay hall, and use their imagination to bring the Wild Man to life through animation.

Supported by: Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens; English Heritage & The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Mentored by: Chloe Rodham (Animation)
Project Contributors: Recent MA Animation graduate, Rhian Jennings & Animator & Motion Design, Andrew Bell

Project Outline: Students will base their animation of the Wild Man’s face on something that interests them from Belsay Hall itself – for example, the historic plant collections in the gardens or the Greek styling of the main hall. They will document points of interest at Belsay Hall through photographs, research wild folk in Greek mythology and the Green Man, and learn how to create stop motion animation. This project is perfect for those interested in myths and legends, stop-motion animation, character design, photography, and making things with your hands. 

The Brief: After historical and mythological research, and learning new techniques and skills associated with animation production, students’ final task is to create pre-production materials (concept and design work) and a short stop-motion clip of their Wild Man.  This will be edited together to create one film which represents the theme of Belsay through the face of the Wild Man.

Project Results: Please view the final results of the students’ work from:  

Art & Animation by John Bootle from Cardinal Hume Catholic School.
Art & Animation by Lucie Mottard from Kings Priory School
Artwork by Oliver Clark from Kings Priory School.

Thank you & well done!

All we have left to say is thank you and well done, not only to the students but to the schools and teachers involved in the Belsay Awakes project at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Kings Priory School, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, Jesmond Park Academy and Boldon School, to the parents who helped along the way, Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens of course, who have supported and contributed to these projects and the TICE team that plugged away at the project week after week.

To the students – we hope you have enjoyed this project, we hope in years to come that you can proudly present a cultural heritage project you did, achieved, quite frankly smashed. Well done and congratulations from everyone here at TICE.

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