Trunk adds an animated dimension to the art of Marianne North

Marianne North, the 19th Century botanical artist, is being celebrated in animated form on International Women’s Day in a film by Trunk for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Director Rok Predin’s short film brings attention to this little-known artist, who unlike the majority of her peers, always painted her specimens in the environment in which they grew. This gave the Trunk team the inspiration to take the viewer on a wonderful journey into the paintings themselves. The film thus introduces and explains the life of North using her own paintings and words as a vehicle.

To create this absorbing effect, Trunk’s team had to digitally deconstruct and reconstruct the paintings, creating layers that contained individual cut out elements, as well as under painting the missing areas, all in the manner of North herself.  

The short film was created using Photoshop, After Effects, Cinema 4D and Flash and has been released today, forInternational Women’s Day. It’s a perfect moment to highlight the work of Marianne North and celebrate her drive and energy.

Pioneer artist

North spent half her life capturing the natural world in stunning oil paintings of exquisite detail, all the more astonishing when seen as the work a lone Victorian woman who painted in the most remote, dangerous and extreme environments on earth. From spending months in a hut within the Amazon rainforest, to climbing through the jungles of Borneo, and crossing the Australian bush, she created over 800 paintings that beautifully describe the flora of our planet.

Her legacy is displayed within the spectacular Marianne North Gallery within Kew Gardens in London. Conceived and created by the artist herself, it has paintings arranged from dado to ceiling, covering every inch of the gallery walls. Yet, while this is the oldest permanent solo exhibition by a female artist in the world, it is relatively unknown. 

Following Trunk’s beautiful Fungi film for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the organisation got back in touch to commission a film to highlight North’s legacy.

The creatives at Trunk have experience of mastering other artists styles, notably for Coldplay’s Ghost Stories when recreating artist Mila Fürstová’s beautiful album artwork, and for David Gilmour when basing an animated promo for Rattle That Lock around the etching style of Gustave Doré.

Animator Layla Atkinson said: “Being able to re-create portions of the paintings was essential, although we used a mix of Marianne’s work, a number of her paintings were created in portrait, so we needed to paint in additional material to expand the edges to the 16:9 film format. Although seemingly an outrageous proposition, Marianne herself followed a similar practice. When she was hanging her work in the gallery, she wanted everything to fit exactly, and if it didn’t, then she painted extra edges onto her canvases, ensuring her paintings would look their very best together”. 

The film is voiced by Emelia Fox, who has already followed North’s footsteps once before in the BBC 4 documentary; Kew’s Forgotten Queen. The music is The Natalia Ensemble’s performance of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by Claude Debussy. The sound and mix was brought to life by the team at Fonic, “creating a truly encapsulating journey” according to Trunk.

North’s plan was always for the audience to first see the gallery, be inspired by the beautiful plants in their habitats, and then go and see them for real in Kew’s stunning gardens. It’s certain that this film (a Vimeo link plays below) will open up her work and the gardens to a new and wider audience.  

Visit Trunk

See more by Trunk on Fired By Design

Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Director: Rok Predin
Producer: Richard Barnett
Animation: Layla Atkinson, Leslie Dart
Compositing: Rok Predin
Sound & Mix: Barnaby Templer at Fonic
Client: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Music: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Claude Debussy
Recording: The Natalia Ensemble 
Oleguer Beltran, violin
Franziska Schötensack, violin
Behrang Rassekhi, viola
Raúl Mirás, cello
José Andrés Reyes, double bass
André Cebrián, flute
Miriam Pastor, oboe
Darío Mariño, clarinet
Bleuenn Le Friec, harp
Jaume Santonja, percussion
Sabela Caridad, percussion
Irene Alfageme, piano
Esteban Domínguez, harmonium

You may also like...

HTML Snippets Powered By :
error: Content is protected :)