Christina Leslie's Portraits

N.L.S., A New Local Space

Deborah Caroll Anzinger's artist run residency and exhibition space in Kingston


Leasho Johnson's Provocative Re-interpretation in 'Canopy Guild'

Light Sensitive

Marlon James' black and whites

Annalee Davis: ON THE MAP

Caribbean Political Documentary

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Duppy Art: stories in clay

Ah the wonders of social networking. I wanted to find out if there were any persons in or connected to the Caribbean making animations or comics trying to develop some cultural identity through their work. I got a response from one person: Scally Ranks. Clicking the links to his videos was a surprise because if I expected animation, I didn't really expect clay animation. Why, because I associate it mainly with UK's Aardman Studios. 'Wallace and Gromit' and such. When a group becomes associated with a particular material or method, the aesthetics go with it too. in my mind claymation was for a certain style of representation brought to focus by Aardman. Of course at anytime your generalizations can be proven wrong and thats always a nice surprise. I asked Scally to tell me about his work so far. I wanted to understand where he saw his platform for his works, in a gallery, in a cinema, online, none or all.

' I created 'Dancehall Claymation' to both promote and share dancehall music to a wider audience,before i began filming i was sculpturing using wax,some of my early work icluded 3 life size rasta heads made from solid wax,also i was painting with wax,during this time my interest with dancehall and reggae was growing and i found my self making dancehall singers out of wax,i was also just about to teach myself video production and editing,one day the idea came to add my art with dancehall music and put them in a film,because wax was not moveable i changed materials and started sculpting from plasticine and my developement in claymation began.
I found that even using basic Claymation techniques i could produce a video good enought to be watched,i made the term ''Freestyle Dancehall Claymation'' as most of my work is unplanned.

In the early days of Duppy Art my models were more basic,often only having the top half of the bodies,the rest hidden out of shot,a 3 min vid would take me almost a month,taking one picture at a time and then putting them together,sometimes a hundred or more,my motivation was my love for the music i was working with and also my enjoyment at learning about jamaica,the people and culture,learning 'patwah' was essensial,being english i wanted to understand what was being said in the songs and educating myself was the only way.
I was able to use basic editing software to arrange the shots and overlay a soundtrack,once it was complete i would post them on youtube,this was really just a place to store them as my computer was always low on memory,but i noticed the videos gettin views and comments, i realise i had something special and unique.
I began to make the films to look like they were part of a bigger film,this was so i could go back an make more to either the start or the end,soon after i started i was being approached by people inside the reggae and dancehall community and i started to get promotion of many websites,as i dont own a dot com website i rely on youtube and facebook to host my work,as a problem in most artist's life is having a place to display there work i figued if it was online it would be available to a wider veiwing audience.

I have high hopes for my work,both in the commercial sector and the underground,i have been the first to put Dancehall dj's in Claymation and also King haile Selassie,the model of the king was soon sold to a reggae collector as im finding now my models are becoming alot better and filming with them often spoils them so i also do commisions for just models.
Duppy Art is on a number of websites around the world and was featured at the Reggae Film festival in jamaica in 2008 and has been shown on tv.

'Currently i'm working on re-building my studio after moving house,but coming up for Duppy Art will be more dancehall and reggae films,i have sold most of the models from my old vids to reggae collectors so im also having to make new models to use.

 - Edited interview with Scally Ranks