An Exploration of Character Based on ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station is an award-winning adult fantasy novel by British author China Miéville. The story takes place in a fictional city where both magic and steampunk technology exist. Humans, and bizarre immigrant races coexist in disharmony under an authoritarian government. The novel would be adapted into a high budget television miniseries. I chose to explore three characters based on their position in society, using a different approach for each character.

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Isaac: The human protagonist, Isaac, is a brilliant but undisciplined scientist, dabbling in all areas of science. I explored Isaac’s character through his work space, creating an instillation of his desk for my degree show exhibition.

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Lin:  Lin, is a Khepri who are a female dominated race with human bodies and scarab beetles for heads. Fantasy creatures are rarely portrayed as complex characters in film and television so I explored how to make her relatable to the audience despite not having human facial features. I designed and made a static prototype of an animatronic scarab head that would be worn by an actress playing Lin in the television series.

Mr Motley

Mr Motley: To counterbalance these two sympathetic characters I also explored an antagonist character, Mr Motley. He is a Mob boss who has grafted extra body parts from various creatures onto himself. This is a practice called ‘remaking’ used by the government to punish and humiliate criminals, but Mr Motley has taken this to the extreme as a form of self aggrandisement. I used sculptural maquettes to design Mr Motley, exploring how to make him menacing and grotesque but still portray him as a character as opposed to a creature.

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Creating a Music Video

This was a 12 week group project to create music video. We had to generate a narrative theme around moods and atmosphere of a song selected by our tutors.

Between a group of eight the project comprised:

  • 4 weeks concept development and storyboarding
  • 3 weeks pre-production
  • 2 ½ days filming
  • 3 weeks post-production

The major work I undertook during the course of this project included design, making and sourcing both the superhero and plain clothes costumes for the two lead characters; Clive and Annie. However, I was involved in all aspects of the project from start to close.

Production Design for Philip K. Dick’s ‘Ubik’

Ubik screenplayFor this 12 week individual project  I designed sets for a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1969 novel Ubik, working from the screenplay written by Dick himself in 1974. The story revolves around modern society’s fear of death and our desperation to postpone dying for as long as possible. In Ubik technology exists a person can be frozen immediately after death so they are suspended in a state in between life and death known as half-life. These people are kept in a facility called Beloved Brentham Moratorium where their loved ones can talk to them via microphone and speakers, like visiting a sick relative in hospital. I designed a series of interconnecting sets to make up the front of house part of the facility, as well as a control room where the half-life caskets are processed by staff. I intended the front of house sets to be sleek but sterile and soulless, with the only colour coming from garish advertising. Black and white was used to signify that this is a place where life and death meet but cannot touch. The control room was intended to provide a stark contrast to the front of house sets by being industrial, colourful and messy to show that this place in fact has more life.

Would you like to read more about this project? Here is a detailed Summary Book

2000 Trees Festival Work Experience

I worked at 2000 Trees Festival in both 2011 and 2012 building, painting, weather proofing and rigging large scale artwork in teams. Being on site during the week leading up to the Festival meant that I experienced the hard work and organisation involved in putting on a festival.

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Download Festival Work Experience

During this work experience for Download Festival I worked in a group of 5 people carving a foam sculpture from a 2D image of the Download Dog logo. We coated the sculpture in fibre glass, then painted and weather proofed it. I also assisted in other areas including the maintenance and painting of large letters and other sculptures.

Designing an attraction for Madame Tussauds

This was a 12 week individual project where we were given a brief by a creative director of Madame Tussauds to design a new attraction for Madame Tussauds in 10 years time.  I designed an interactive Star Trek themed attraction as the long-running franchise provided scope to explore new technologies  and would likely still be popular in 10 years time. We pitched our designs to the creative directors of Madame Tussauds and my attraction was shortlisted as one they liked.

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The Pillowman: Stage and Costume design

This was a six-week individual project designing set and costume for a speculative production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman at the Midlands Art Centre.

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Skills acquired or improved in this project:

  • Set and Costume design for Stage
  • Understanding the limitations of the venue
  • Modelmaking in scale 1:25
  • lighting a scale model to convey mood changes
  • Using photoshop to create costume designs
  • Working to a script