Holly Summerson

  • 2019
  • Design
  • Animation - BA (Hons)

Holly Summerson, Animation - BA (Hons): Challenging the impossible ideal of a respectable queer person

Holly Summerson’s final animated short is critical of the idea of an “ideal, respectable queer person”. “It’s an impossible thing to be expected to be, and it’s also completely different from one person to the next, so there’s no set definition,” she says, “There are these pressures to maybe represent a good version of your gender or sexuality, or to look a certain way or act a certain way. There’s far more to the topic than could fit in this film.”

Holly interviewed 14 people to talk through their feelings about and experiences of this impossible ideal and used these audio recordings as the basis for the film. “It’s animated in charcoal, which is quite an old technique. You’re working directly under a camera, drawing your image, taking a photo, and then rubbing it out and changing it to take another photo,” says Holly, “It’s quite expressive and fun.”

There are no direct images of the interviewees in the film, but the abstract animations are inspired by what they say. “The main bulk of the image is shifting faces that are never totally static, and they’re being distorted and twisted in weird ways.”

Reflecting on her time at Edinburgh College of Art, it was the breadth of animation techniques you could experiment with that Holly enjoyed most. “One of the best things about ECA and this programme is there’s a lot of freedom. You can try out a whole range of different things and find your own style and interests,” she says, “I also really enjoy living in Edinburgh. I like that there are a lot of green spaces. It’s nice to be in a smaller city where a lot of creative things are happening.”

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Acceptable Face
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Acceptable Face

Her plans for the future are to continue with the freelance animation and illustration work she’s been doing and to possibly find work in an animation studio.

“I didn’t realise how important it was until I came here to be in a studio and working around people all the time,” says Holly, “Whether you’re collaborating or working on your own, to just have a fresh pair of eyes and support, and having someone at the desk next to you to ask: “Does that look better in blue or green?” when you’ve been looking at it for three hours and they haven’t, that’s just been really helpful.”

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