Two years ago, animator Ross Hogg was introduced to the manipulate Festival audience as a recent graduate from the Glasgow School of Art. His work was showcased during one of the Snapshots slots – a short, early evening, free event, dedicated to nurturing emerging Scottish talent.
The nurturing must have helped. That same year he won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award for Animation, and a year later was notching up his third consecutive BAFTA Scotland nomination for the outright Animation Award. He’s really mixing it with the big boys now and appears this evening, in the company of leading Scottish animator Iain Gardner, to present a longer programme of animation shorts that will set his work alongside a selection of animation films that have inspired and excited him.
The films are grouped together and shown in three sections, with chat from Iain and Ross in between. Despite spanning continents and generations, all of the work curated this evening shares the common practice of having been hand-drawn, an aspect of animated film making that Hogg is beginning to stamp his mark on and make his own.
Echoing the programme notes, Gardner engages Hogg in conversation about the important ways in which the chosen medium, or process, shapes what is ultimately communicated. There is an immediacy as well as a physicality that draws Hogg towards drawing. He calls his drawings ‘rough’ – and often they are, although some of unmistakable beauty can also be glimpsed as they flicker by - but this roughness brings a sense of urgency, of life and movement that a more deliberately polished piece may lack.
The great Norman McLaren, whose two minute Dots from 1940 was one of the films shown tonight, once said that animation is not about drawings that move but ‘the art of movements that are drawn’. This sums up exactly what the work of Ross Hogg brings to the animation party. All of the work showcased this evening - especially Jonathan Hodgson’s ‘Nightclub’, Marcus Armitage’s ‘My Dad’, and ‘Wind’ by Robert Loebel – were inspired examples of how the medium of drawing can contribute to the film’s meaning.
There is not only entertainment to be found in these animations, there is also social history, political commentary and high comedy, all filtered through the sideways-looking, often surreal lens of the animator. Having an opportunity to hear animators such as Hogg and Gardiner musing articulately on concepts as diverse as time, memory, football and the tabloids is an absolute bonus.