Step Behind the Scenes of Sherlock Holmes at the University of the Arts

By Ben Miller | 26 January 2012
An image of a computer-generated image of a Dickensian mansion scene showing people in smart clothing in a sprawling courtyard
Exhibition: Step Behind the Scenes of Sherlock Holmes, Arts Gallery, University of the Arts London, until March 9 2012

"What visitors will see in this exhibition is not the finished piece of work that everyone sees in the cinema," says Sarah Greenwood, Art Director, Production Designer and seeming biannual nominee for Academy Awards. It is her name on the credits for Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Sherlock Holmes.

"It reveals a unique glimpse behind the screen, into the craft and design that goes into it. Designing for film has the potential to encompass everything – this exhibition is a moment in that process."

The enormity of her challenge can be absorbed in one look at the clutter-strewn desks and offices layered thick in sticky notes Greenwood calls home.

Turning the University gallery into a lifelike "set" of the art department she used for Sherlock Holmes 2, film fans can sit in the Director's chair, rifle through scripts, drawings, sketchbooks, models and schedules. It is a live studio Greenwood admits is in "creative chaos", surrounded by storyboards and clips of Jude Law and friends from the finished article. You can even have a go on Greenwood's computer.

"I feel very strongly that after my initial conception of the story the collaboration of the team is the key to creating an amazing looking film," she says.

"The talent and knowledge that is brought together for those few short months, to work in a constant state of crisis and to then produce what we do, is nothing short of incredible."

A certain level of disarray, it seems, is the secret to the spectacular.

"From this confusion comes the clarity of the end product. But to achieve that clarity is a constant process of refinement and elimination, searching for a path to best illustrate a clear, coherent visual concept for an entire film.

"When it succeeds, the art that is produced can be breathtaking. And that can only be seen in the final film."

  • Open Monday-Friday 11am-6pm. Admission free.

More pictures:

An illustration of a firebomb above a city street
© Eva Kuntz
A black and white 3D illustration of city rooftops
© Eva Kuntz
An image of a computer-generated image of a Dickensian mansion scene showing people in smart clothing in a sprawling courtyard
© Eva Kuntz
An image of an illustration of an ancient city with men on horseback in front of a blazing building
© Eva Kuntz
An image of an illustration of a castle atop a rocky slope
© Eva Kuntz
A photo of the inside of a film studio, with cluttered desks and walls adorned with notes
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