Love Over Bias is the name for this commercial released by Proctor & Gamble before the Olympics in Peong Chang. I recently discovered it and saw that I painted the scenic elements we provided at Scenic Oasis, back in April 2017. Wow! I had no idea that the kid's bedroom ceiling was in the same project as the dark wooden sign with Korean characters and the giant blue square arch at the ski hill! Cool! And I'm very happy to think that people enjoyed this work. Scroll down to see some shots of the stuff we did in the shop and on location.
Proctor & Gamble owns many well-known brands and their Chief Brand Officer had this to say about the campaign according to this article: "At P&G, we aspire to create a better world for everyone - a world free from bias, with equal representation, equal voices and equal opportunity. When the world is more equal, society is better and it leads to economic growth. Unfortunately, equality is limited by biases, and we recognize we can use our voice to be a force for good and shine a light on the bias that limits human potential. We hope to promote open discussion, influence attitudes, and ideally change behaviour.”
I'm glad to see such a positive and socially-beneficial purpose behind a project I worked on.
Production Design by Michelle Foote-Derrick
Director Alma Har'el Production Company Epoch FIlms
Scenic Oasis Film provided the set piece for this commercial, namely the exploded wall interior and exterior. I had the privilege of sculpting/painting these pieces as Head Painter with the SOF team. We built the parts in our shop and then installed them into this house in East Van (after removing the existing window). See process shots below the Youtube link to find out more.
Seeing it now I wish I had painted more of the ceiling interior... Ah well. Oftentimes I never know what's going to be in the shot or not.
This post is far more personal than most of what I've shared here: today I'm writing to talk about my experiences with the self-development company LB Seminars, also known as Liberty & Balance, based in Richmond, BC with offices in Calgary, Alberta. Their workshops are directly related to or descended from PSI Seminars in the US.
Sometime in 2017 we made several table tops for this commercial for Outback Steakhouse. I recognize them in the video because we refinished them three times to get the right color/texture that the client wanted. I can see why! The rough, charred texture of the table works really well with the steak. It's cool to see how that one detail had such a big impact on the aesthetic of the commercial.
In the quiet months of the winter this year I got really into making these mixed-media paintings. I'm really enjoying the process of creating these and I intend to do a show at some point, as well as make reproductions and open an online store, printing on-demand if there are customers. Hopefully this will come along over the course of 2018 to launch the series in 2019.
Using old canvases I first address the "underpainting", then cover them with garment pattern paper in a papier-mache style, then layer on acrylics lightly with a sponge, lightening and obscuring the patterns. Then I project a black & white image onto the canvas and paint that on top, adding a caption sometimes. I chose these images for their sense of mystery; biological, astronomical, and social. Evoking a sense of mystery while adding a contemporary caption, I'm intrigued with the possibility for engaging the viewer with humour and curiosity. I also chose images that aren't under copyright or are specifically labelled for re-use, with interest in open-source work and recycling.
On April 1 2017 I took up the role of Head Scenic Artist at Scenic Oasis Film! I hadn't had an actual ongoing Job since 2008, so this was a big change. I began freelancing for them in March 2016, painting sets and props, mainly for commercials. Working in film for a scene shop I have learned a great deal about scenic paint skills as well as construction, installation, and the process of film shoots. I lost count of the number of commercials we did over the past months, but here are a few I was able to track down, with some behind-the-scenes photos.
Chiquita Banana - Sun Announcement
Production Designer - Athea Boyes
Chiquita Banana took a pretty funny approach to the solar eclipse of August 2017... we did the sun and the moon out of styrofoam, and I painted the floor to match the giant backdrop.
Duracell Christmas 2017
Art Director - Pedro Romero
Duracell's Christmas commercial for 2017 was a really big project for me: all the shelving was painted, the floor was huge, plus the plaster-finish walls, a stone fireplace, and a variety of other items. This commercial was shown in Canada (most of what we do is not) so it's nice to have people see my work.
Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch - A World Without Layers
Production Designer Katherine Reynolds
For the Hershey's commercial we made a "lava" table, using Plexiglass, tinted Versagel, and painted Polyurethane. It was altered quite a bit in post-production computer graphics but you can still kind of see what we made.
Coke Zero - Nailed It
Production Designer Katherine Reynolds
Xfinity xFi - Dinnertime
Art Director - Pedro Romero
In 2017 I was thrilled to continue my work with Mortal Coil Performance, the outdoor theatre company who produce the popular yearly "Ghost Train" experience as well as various original works of theatre. This 14' puppet was built in 2016 and saw a major makeover in 2017, turning him into an elder fisherman of the Coast Salish First Nations in pre-colonization times. He was given the name "Me'k" meaning Grandfather, by the Wolf Tribe of the Musqueam people who often perform with him. His ceremonial regalia was made by Iona Paul, matriarch of the Wolf Clan.
CLICK THIS LINK TO A VIDEO OF THE PUPPET IN PERFORMANCE WITH THE WOLF PACK!
And... I was honored to make his hat! Made to look In the style of woven cedar, it is actually made of wire mesh & paper mache. Here are some process shots from winter 2017:
For about 2 months in the fall of 2016 I was part of the costume team for the feature film "Beautiful Voice", under costume designer Zohra Shahalimi. The film was not completed (at least not to my knowledge) but I did make some costumes and learned a great deal about working in costume for film. here are some of the costumes I made:
Part of the job of an on-set costumer, background or lead cast, is maintaining the continuity of their look. Since we were dressing people set in the Middle East, I learned to tie their headscarves and to make what I called "Instaburka" when we needed burkas really fast one day.
September/October 2016: I was doing decor and custom art installations to turn an old petting zoo barn into an art experience for visitors to Stanley Park's "Ghost Train" produced by Mortal Coil Performance with the City of Vancouver. I was assisting an amazing puppet artist who had been doing the Spooky Barn every year since 2002, Beth Agosti. Together we created a skeletons' picnic in a crypt, a series of peephole dioramas about the "Seven Ages of Man," and four Day of the Dead themed "retablos", as well as decorations in the barn's main room, the dance hall.
Here are some process shots of the work in progress for those who are curious - this was a 2 week installation using mostly recycled materials from previous years. We bought fabric, foamcore, paint, hot glue, zap straps & staples, we did a bunch of printing, and we had support from the scene shop at Great Northern Way which supplied 8 platforms and a number of old theatre flats (fake walls).
Process Shots ~ Scroll Down for The Results ~
"Retablo" Dioramas in the Dance Hall
"A retablo in Mexican folk art (also lámina) is a devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art." - Wikipedia
Since we had 4 empty boxes mounted on the wall in the Dance Hall, we had the perfect setting to interpretively create 4 Day of the Dead "retablos", using all recycled decor, random junk and crafty stuff. with a peek-in cover in front of each 3-D collage. Follow the process in this slideshow to get closer to the artwork!
Picnic in the Crypt
Occupying the larger main animal stall in the back hall of the Spooky Barn, the Crypt was our take on the tradition of sharing a meal with the dead. Here, the dead came to picnic with us. Using almost entirely old materials and objects found in the Barn and stored from past years I set up the graves, the decor, the draping, the props, and the mannequins... uh, skeletons, while Beth Agosti styled the skeletons' costumes. This completely changed the atmosphere of the barn.
The Seven Ages of Man: Peekable Diorama Series
In eight former animal stalls we set up custom-built platforms with a staged series of collaged images representing the Seven Ages from Shakespeare's famous text. Seen through peep-holes along a dividing wall in a dimly-lit hallway, the scenarios take a whimsical and macabre look at the stages: The Infant, The Child, The Lover, The Soldier, The Judge, The Pantaloon, and The Aged. An old wind-up music box was attached to the entrance display, inviting viewers to wind it gently, to play its haunting simple tune as they explored the installation.
"Each year the Stanley Park Ghost Train takes our riders on a journey through a mystical and magical world, inspired by Hallowe'en and other spooky tales. This family event is open to all age and offers a fright free glimpse of the whimsical world of ghosts and ghouls."
"Escape the weather and have a spooky-good time for just $2 plus GST per person. The third annual Spooky Barn is open throughout all operating hours. This charming indoor experience provides families with an escape from the roaming spirits, as well as the elements! Explore the peek-a-boo art installations portraying the Seven Stages of Man from William Shakespeare's famous As You Like It. Once you have completed your journey through the Seven Stages, celebrate to the sounds of mariachi music on the dance floor."
- City of Vancouver website
Mid-September has arrived and it's raining today; the weather has cooled down a bit from a rather mild summer in Vancouver, and I've had a few days off from the chaos of freelance life. Having some quiet time to do nothing, catch up on small tasks, and reflect on what I've done lately is really good.
My August was taken over by the costume design & execution for "The Beaux Stratagem" with the United Players of Vancouver, at the Jericho Arts Centre, as previously mentioned in my last post. It has been 7 years since I did a conventional indoor theatre show like that, specifically, a period piece with a large cast. With myself being the only costumer, a department of one since the regular U.P. head of wardrobe was on another project, I had a lot on my plate. I had some sewing help from 2 very kind volunteers, but the rest of the job was up to me: the costume sourcing & pull from stock, fittings, alterations, wig styling, hat decorating, boot dying, shopping, organization, transportation and storage in between fittings and everywhere else... It was a real exercise of my costuming muscles. I ended up getting a car - it was necessary to do the job, as well as to start working in film more, so I took the plunge. If you know me you'll know this is a big change and part of the Big big change of moving to Vancouver and starting a new life here.
Photographer Nancy Caldwell took photos of the dress rehearsal, which she has kindly shared with me via Flickr.
The review at VancouverPlays.com even mentioned me and my work! Thanks very much to the author, Jerry Wasserman:
"Amira Routledge’s period costumes are far handsomer than what anyone should expect from a company with such small budgets."
Here are some highlights from the show, from August 28, 2016.
Coming soon in Amiraworks:
Starting September 26 I'll be doing an installation for Mortal Coil Performance Society's "Ghost Train" in Stanley Park. I'll be assisting artist Beth Agosti on the Spooky Barn: a series of walk-through scenarios and a dance hall, set in an old barn which used to be a petting zoo next to the train. It's Day of the Dead themed and I'm really excited about this!
Then from mid-October until early January I'm joining the costume crew on a feature film! Through the ACFC union under costume designer Zohra Shahalimi I'll be a streamstress/costumer and truck assistant. This will my first big film gig after becoming a permittee with IATSE and about 5 day calls doing background costuming on a few different productions. The film is shooting in Kamloops or Kelowna in November/December, so it's really going to be a learning adventure.
Amira Emma Routledge,