Beryl is a feisty working class mother, all bubbly exuberance and outrageous outspokenness. Equally exuberant is the drawing in which she is rendered by her creator, award-winning British animator Joanna Quinn, where the pen strokes are laid on with brisk fluidity. A new exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford charts Quinn’s work, which includes commercials and films, and her inspirations. In animation terms, what’s interesting about Quinn’s work is that it is so clearly hand-drawn, says Michael Harvey, curator of Drawings that Move: The Art of Joanna Quinn. ‘It’s like an artist’s sketch and displays great fluidity and energy. In an artist’s context, her work stands out from other animators because it’s so illustrated.’ Animation can often appear very slick, but with Quinn there is the sense that her work comes alive as she draws it. She embarked on her career more than 20 years ago, and she fits comfortably in the grand tradition of British illustration and animation. ‘All of them have very distinctive personalities – when you think about people such as Bob Godfrey and Nick Park, they are all distinctive, but definitely British,’ says Harvey. However, it is Quinn’s ability to convey emotions and character that is particularly special. ‘Joanna is a virtuoso in using drawings to communicate emotions,’ he says, citing a shot from her Wife of Bath film, in which the knight waits to hear if he is going to be executed. ‘You see a close up of his eyes and can feel his anguish purely from a series of drawings.
‘Drawings that Move: The Art of Joanna Quinn is on at the National Media Museum in Bradford, from 16 October to 21 February 2010