> GSA Students Create Lively Animations In Response To The Poetry of Hollie McNish and Michael Pedersen - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

GSA Students Create Lively Animations In Response To The Poetry of Hollie McNish and Michael Pedersen

When two art forms smash together, their collision creates sparks. Two of the UK’s foremost poets combining with animation students from The Glasgow School of Art would of course be nothing less than fireworks.

This evening’s event was a celebration of this collaboration, which first began with Hollie McNish several years ago, and now with Michael Pedersen’s work brought into the fold, including one of his recent pieces commissioned by The Alasdair Gray Archive. The GSA students were tasked with creating animations in response to and utilising voice recordings of the poets’ work.

Ross Hogg, BAFTA award-winning GSA tutor, completed the affable trio on stage as they delineated the project to us. The joy of it all emanated from every syllable. Both Pedersen and McNish were in awe of how the art students had recontextualised their work: ‘opened it up’, made it ‘more vibrant’, and created something so ‘delightful’.

Live readings from both poets topped and tailed the showcase of animations at the centre of the evening.

Pedersen’s Trademark

Pedersen had his trademark lyrical lexicon and ebullient bounce to his delivery. The event was also the Glasgow paperback launch of his most recent poetry collection ‘The Cat Prince’, which covers much of his youth and beyond, but most saliently the period where he was happier when he was a cat, and drawing his friends into his feline antics – including stripping down, jumping around, and meowing loudly.

He described loving poetry as a ‘rebellious act’, and touched on grief – and that poetry can be a way to bring ourselves closer to the loved one. He read ‘What Grief Feels Like To Me’: ‘grief feels hottest when newly lit…feels like a drug’.

Lifting the veil with McNish

McNish’s performance was as grounded, honest, and hilarious as always. She’s the poet who’s most like the child in The Emperor’s New Clothes tale – she points to that which society tries to ignore despite the glaring reality. She lifts the veil on things shrouded in shame and tainted with disgust and does so in such a way that the audience erupts into conspiratorial giggles. Her most recent collection, ‘Lobster’, uses both prose and poetry to celebrate pleasure, our bodies, and more.

Morphing Animations

In between their readings was the showcase of the animations made by the students, each one a visual marvel entwined with the voice recordings of the poets. Many were hand illustrated – some expanding and contracting in ink, some chalk, all smudges and slashes, others in coloured pencil and alive with fuzzy movements. A few utilised sound effects or visual static and collage too. They were all mesmerising, especially the way they matched the energy of the poets’ performances, each moment morphing and moving into another.

Fizz and fervour

I am a fan – a fanatic, if you will (the fuller version of the word conveying better my fizz and fervour, I believe) – of these two poets. I have seen them live many times over the years and several signed copies of their books adorn my bookshelves at home. So for me, who already adores and knows their work, I can say truly that these short films make their words and messages leap even higher and brighter into the world.

The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2024 is on till 9th June and much can be viewed online as well as across the school’s buildings.

‘The Cat Prince’ is out in paperback from 6th June.

Photo Credits: Kat Gollock

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