In February 2021 a meteorite fell to earth in the sleepy town of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. With a population of around 5000 Winchcombe is one of those ‘nothing ever happens here’ towns; except this February a lump of 103-gram black rock that dated to the birth of the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago landed in a non-descript field. Wow.
After hearing about this and finding out it was on display, I went along to South Kensington’s Natural History Museum (free entry) to get up close to this object. It got me thinking, one of the best things about Escape is its location. Being in London means you have access to so much visual inspiration that you just don’t get anywhere else. If half an hour journey to South Kensington is outside your comfort zone dear reader, then how about a 5 minute walk to the British Museum from Escape? (not forgetting popping in on that Bubble tea joint on the corner to fortify yourself)
Now spending a while in a museum might seem like a boring hobby that I’m promoting but stick with me here. I’m suggesting if you are studying ANY kind of image making course, whether it's VFX, Games, Animation (or Fine Art) then you are missing a treasure trove for your studies.
We are living in an image culture that is eating itself. So many concepts, moodboards and ideas we see in class are derivative, because people search on google and come across the same kind of images. Aspiring VFX filmmakers create the kind of imagery they like from films they’ve seen. Alien characters are all starting to look the same because everyone sees the same references thrown up by a Google Image Search or a search through Netflix. Environments all look the same because everyone’s starting to use the same background and texture libraries. Games characters all reference existing games characters.
Going to a museum with a camera can inject the unpredictable into your work. To get to the Winchcombe Meteorite I had to walk through the Minerals Gallery. I had no interest in minerals beforehand, but I soon realised that a texture or environment artist would be blown away by some of the surfaces and patterns on display. Likewise, a character artist or a VFX compositor could create amazing new aliens by look at some of the weirdest animals and bugs you’ll ever see for ideas. Designing a new mech or robot? look at some tribal masks, ritual objects and even insects for reference. Using these places makes your work unique.
Next time you have to create a moodboard or a concept sheet, think about a trip to these storehouses of future inspiration. You belong in a museum!
The Winchcombe meteorite is displayed in The Vault (in the Minerals gallery) Natural History Museum, London https://www.nhm.ac.uk/ Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD
The British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/ Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Coco Fresh Tea & Juice London is at 65 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3BL (Saint recommends the Japanese Redbean Match Tea)