The International Flipbook Festival At Reg Vardy Gallery Sunderland

By Caroline Lewis | 17 November 2006
photo of a flipbook held in hands featuring a woman standing before a brick wall

The exhibition is dubbed a film festival without film. Courtesy Reg Vardy

The Reg Vardy is the first stop on the tour for the fourth International Flipbook Festival – a ‘celebration of hand-powered cinema’ featuring works by more than 100 artists from Europe and North America.

The Festival will run until December 8, before it travels across the pond to Philadelphia, New York and Vancouver. In each showing, the entered works will be judged in accordance with four categories: Live Action, Animation, Experimental and Documentary.

photo of flipbooks mounted on a wall under a banner with the festival title

The Festival will tour to the States next. Courtesy Reg Vardy

With an emphasis being placed on how the books feel – some are made out of unusual materials such as hair and socks – the judges at the Reg Vardy Gallery were representatives from the North Durham Royal Society for the Blind.

The judges had the scenes in the books explained to them, while they decided whether the books flipped well in their hands.

Among the titles on show are pieces by Kyle Bravo, Matt Pollard, Phillip Warnell and Lisa Young.

photo of a flipbook featuring a girl in a mask

Work by Jen Belthuis. Courtesy Reg Vardy

Kyle Bravo often puts animated portraits of himself in his flipbooks, including ones where he scratches his face, which is inexplicable covered in red spots, and others where he mouths phrases.

Matt Pollard is known for his surreal cartoons, while Phillip Warnell explores the human expression of shock, tracing the transformation from calm to traumatised as his photographed subjects are startled in the book Shock/One Second.

Lisa Young depicts an ice skater in her double-sided book Perfect/Imperfect, using footage from the World Figure Skating Championships. The female figure skater attempts two difficult triple jumps – the results of which are revealed as the viewer flips the pages of each side of the book.

photo of a flip book featuring images from footage of a female figure skater in action

Lisa Young's Perfect/Imperfect. Courtesy Reg Vardy

Other artists to look out for include Scott Blake, who makes well known faces appear and disappear from graphics made with barcodes, and Erika Adams with her book Grasshopper.

The brainchild of American artist Rama Hoffpauir, the event is defined as a film festival without film – but there is a popcorn maker on hand. Its fun approach to art also demonstrates just what can be done with low-tech means, without skimping on effect.

In contrast to many art exhibitions, the Flipbook Festival is refreshingly hands-on – not only are visitors invited to flip through the books (how else do you look at them?) but there’s also the option of making your own.

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