Saturday, 10 April 2010

Research into set construction by Beatrice Baumgartner, La MaLon Oublie

AUTHOR: Beatrice Baumgartner
TITLE: Blossom and bloom and decay
SOURCE: Crafts (London, England) no221 28-9 N/D 2009

The annual New Designers exhibition, held at Islington's Business Design Centre, never fails to provoke contrasting emotions. For rather too much of the time there's a slightly uncomfortable sense of frustration that occasionally tips over into exasperation: in a world where we're surrounded by so much stuff, do we really need to be churning out hundreds of young designers and makers who year upon year merely threaten to add to the detritus? Then every so often you stumble across a piece that restores your faith; that persuades you it's worth wading through all the average thinking and politely bland textile design; that proves the system can also nurture mavericks
In fairness there were several fine prospects at this year's show, but while scouting around the Applied Art section I became besotted with a nine-minute film on the Brighton University stand, shot in a tiny model house which (importantly) was also on display. Created by Beatrice Baumgartner, La MaLon Oublie contained a hint of David Lynch's earliest work with a dash of Tim Burton's love of macabre, gothic fairytales. In short it was quite hypnotic, and absolutely unlike anything else at the show.
In her miniature building, two rooms have been left untouched, representing the past, while the rest of the structure is slowly but surely crumbling, as it's overrun by weeds. 'I wanted to bring the house to life by making strange things happen -- things humans don't know about.' Set against a soundtrack that shifts from sweetly saccharine jewellery-box music to discordant and faintly industrial clangs, light fades in and out. As it changes, nature blossoms and blooms, then swiftly decays -- or occasionally transforms into something else completely. At the show the model house itself was placed adjacent to the screen, allowing the viewer to grasp the true scale of the film set. Made of wood, the model contains a rotating tree (neatly referencing the jewellery-box score). Baumgartner used leaves as a veneer, before adding a coat of resin. The roof was finished with rose petals, some dyed black to make it look slightly charred. Then the whole thing was sand-blasted. 'I like using natural organisms,' she explains. 'They're so natural and so detailed.'
Interestingly, the three-dimensional object and the two-dimensional film have a symbiotic relationship. Seen separately neither makes much sense; put together, the effect is haunting and rather beautiful. The 24-year-old was brought up in Switzerland before arriving in Brighton, initially to study Interior Architecture. After a year she switched courses. 'I didn't really enjoy it,' she explains. 'The second year started, and I just didn't want to do it anymore. A few of my friends were doing Wood, Metal, Ceramics, Plastic, and all their work seemed so much fun.' However, traces of the first year perhaps remain: 'I've always been interested in architecture and also the stuff underneath -- the foundations of a building or the roots of the trees. I guess it's about that element of surprise; when you look under something, it's different to the outside.'
Her work was so unlike anything else on Brighton's (excellent) stand that I'm intrigued. What did her tutors made of her initial ideas? Was she given carte blanche? 'Sort of. I think it was the first time they'd marked a film as a craft piece. I suspect they thought it was a bit strange to judge because it wasn't really a 3D object.'
The project took two months to make, and was largely shot in the evenings when she got back home from university. As she points out, stop-motion animation is a labour-intensive process. 'It's fun. It sometimes gets a bit tedious though. You can work for so long to film 20 seconds, or less.' So where does Baumgartner now position herself, and how exactly does she earn a living? 'It's quite difficult. Maybe I see myself more as an animator, but I still want to make craft pieces -- maybe to make films from afterwards. I think it's quite interesting when they both go together.'
Since leaving university this summer she's already moved to London, and La Maison Oublije is currently showing as part of the Home Sweet Home exhibition at the Hub in Sleaford. Subsequently, she says, she wants to do 'more work on my own. Do more films and make more objects.' Her finished results maybe difficult to categorise but I fancy they'll be worth more than a passing glance.
'Home Sweet Home' is at HUB until 12 November. For further details, see Crafts Guide. For contact details, see Stockists. To view La Maison Oublists, go to
La Maison OubliƩe, wood, resin, hydrangeas, rose petals, leaves, 2009 HOUSE PHOTO SAM BAROSLEY

This is a link to the Animated Film ;

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