Wallace and Gromit fans are in for a treat in the New Year.
While the Wallace and Gromit characters that have graced the Life Science Centre in Newcastle for nearly eight months starring in their popular A World of Cracking Ideas exhibition take their final bow, Aardman’s senior model maker will be waiting in the wings.
In a ‘whizz, bang, pop’ finale, Jim Parkyn will be at Life on January 21 to hold a hands-on model making workshop – a chance for aspiring model makers to learn some tricks of the trade from one of the masters.
Everyone will be familiar with Jim’s creations. He is responsible for the slugs, the dogs in the fez, the donkeys and the sleepy tortoise in Creature Comforts as well as much of the Shaun the Sheep series and the new Pirates feature film.
“Anybody can make a model,” says Jim, “but it’s the little tweaks that make it a character and in the model making class we’ll make it easy by breaking it right down into basic shapes that fit together.
“I started proper model making at school inspired by things I saw in rock pools and at the zoo, and I was inspired by the creative Saturday morning television shows at that time like Going Live. Model animation like Morph which was featured on Tony Hart’s Vision On, was a huge influence.
“Trapdoor, a tale of creatures that lived under a trapdoor in a basement (circa 1984), created by Terry Brain made me come to realize that I could actually make a career out of the thing I loved doing the most and funnily enough I now work alongside Terry, which is a huge privilege.”
Jim adds: “Preparation is key. The clay has to be warm and in the workshop we’ll be warming it up by hand to make it flexible and workable and then everything we’ll do will be by hand, no tools required. It’s amazing the different effects that can be created by fingers and nails.
“You’ll be able to take your model home and experiment even further using bits and pieces from around the house like cocktail sticks and safety scissors.”
Jim conducts workshops such as these on a regular basis, “yet every time I see something different. When we are making Gromits everyone puts something in of their own personality and creates their own accessories – dog bowls and dog bones, although my favourite was a Gromit iPhone!”
The model making sessions with Jim Parkyn on January 21 will be included in the normal admission price at no extra charge but tickets must be booked and paid for in advance on 0191 243 8223 as numbers are limited.
The sessions are suitable for ages seven and above. Participants can take their models home.