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Animation students explore the human body through Wellcome Trust library archives and contemporary music

Animation for Wellcome
Animation for Wellcome

Written by
Published date
01 March 2017

Words by Ian Gustav Ahlberg, a BA (Hons) Public Relations graduate.

MA Animation students recently presented a screening of 8 short animated films made in collaboration with the Wellcome Library and Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

With ‘imagining the body’ as the brief, the animators were inspired by material from the Wellcome Library Collection, and brought to life their own responses through the language of animation.

The Wellcome Trust was set up in 1936 to manage the wealth left behind by Henry Wellcome, a prominent 19th and 20th century pharmaceutical entrepreneur. The trust supports biomedical projects and manages the Wellcome Collection – a museum in London showcasing a large collection of books, paintings and objects collected by Henry Wellcome which document the historical development of medicine worldwide.

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance is a private, specialist music education institution. Set up in 1986, it’s been at the heart of the music industry ever since, teaching the world’s leading musicians, producers and songwriters.

The brief

MA Animation students were invited to create visually engaging short video animations using collection material from the Wellcome Library exploring the topic of ‘imagining the body’. As part of the brief, students considered:

  • What makes a body human?
  • How do we know what goes on inside us?
  • How has the body been perceived in the past?
  • How can we look at our bodies through the eyes of medicine?
  • What might the future hold?

The animated films were screened on the 24 January 2017 at the Wellcome Trust and introduced to the audience by Angela Saward, Curator of Moving Image and Sound, Richard Strange from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance and LCC’s MA Animation course leader, Kim Noce.

The screening


Rosa Beiroa – Playing Forward

Rosa’s film was awarded ‘Best Film’ by a panel of 15 members of staff from the Wellcome Trust.

Covering the period between the 1860s and 1967, the piece is a reflection of women’s changing roles in society, as many became involved in sports and physical exercise. Rosa aimed to maintain an aesthetic that could remind us of the past and the images reproduced in the Sport Manuals for Girls from the early 19th century. The music also drives us through the different periods of time.

Zheng Zheng – Way Out

Focusing on the connection between the heart, mind and body, the piece explores this question through the story of a man with a cage head. Having been born into this world as blank pages, it’s up to all of us to find our way in the maze of life. With its slow pace and poetic style of animation, the music compliments the work.

Yulan Sun – Forest in the body

Yulan’s film won the audience vote at the screening.

This animation explores the relationship between soul, blood and body. It was inspired by the book Blood, the Paramount Humour and stills from the Wellcome Library. In the animation, abstract concepts reveal a colorful and vibrant environment in organs and bodies. The aim of the animation is to help people find immeasurable healing in their mind and body.

Itziar Ortiz – Sophia

The piece sets out to explore autism through the everyday life of a girl and her grandmother. Living with autism, representing by a glass bottle, it can be hard for others to understand how to deal with the condition. Making autism approachable and easily understood was the main aim of the project.

Yue Xia – Fluid

Yue’s film was awarded ‘Best Theme for the Brief’ by a panel of 15 members of staff from the Wellcome Trust.

Yue’s film explores the different ways medicine has developed in the East and West, looking at ancient Chinese and Roman understandings of Lifeblood (Chi and Humorism). The piece contrasts the 2 approaches, and draws similarities between them. The music combines influences from old Chinese and Greek music.

Matt Collie – Food is Thought

Linking the gut to the mind, the animation explores research connecting the human gut bacterial flora to our general wellbeing. Following the journey of an apple being digested, it showcases the invisible and yet-to-be discovered connections within us.

Meng Xu – Dancing Brain

The main aim for the motion infographic animation Dancing Brain is to demonstrate and visualise  the relationships between brain functions and our daily lives. With its eclectic, 80s look and feel, the piece has a retro-futuristic edge to it, perfectly rounded out by the music and text.

Yuhan Fu – Changing Body

Imagine a future where humans have frog legs, ailments are cured with a touch of a button and hearts are transplanted in minutes. Yuhan’s piece sets out to explore what medicine might look like in the future, using references from the Wellcome Library. Combined with the music, the piece reminds us of the positive future ahead.