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netribution > features > northern light with rachel bevan baker > page two

What are you doing now?
Well, I teach animation at Edinburgh School of Art and occasionally lecture in Glasgow and Dundee too. But my current project is for the Scottish Arts Council. I won one of the first "Creative Scotland Awards". Working on the Green Man was so hectic and had such very strict production criteria that I wanted to be freer, do something more experimental and also to work outdoors.

Outdoor Animation.
Yes! (Laughs) I sent a proposal to the Arts Council for Scotland suggesting that I would visit lots of Scottish beaches and animate on them, photograph and record live sound and assemble later — and they went for it. There will be 12 films, each named after a beach, each between one and two minutes long, all to be viewed together as a fifteen minute block.

Which beaches did you visit?
Potobello, Durness, Achmelvich, Portmahomack, beaches on Iona, Skye and on the Black Isle, where my home is. I didn’t get to the outer Isles, largely because I had to keep coming back to Edinburgh to download from my equipment — so I was working within a days journey of Edinburgh.

Did you have a plan for each beach?
Sometimes yes — some beaches were urban, like Portobello, or busy family beaches like Achmelvich: others were used by dolphin watchers. Sometimes no — I’d just wait for inspiration (laughs) and wait! Some are quite general — people picking up stones, cloud formations, and one is my three-year old nephew Findlay’s imaginary beach. One (Portmahomack) has quite an historical idea or supposition, about the beach’s ancient Pictish inhabitants.

What techniques did you use?
A mixture — drawing on paper, drawing and redrawing on the same paper, drawing in sand, filming and also animated on computer using Flash (, which I’m hoping to use more in my work:
The Green Man Of Knowledge
and Beelines were both shot on film — so the quality was great. But it’s a very long, complex process. With Flash, I can see the results immediately — working fast like this means I can experiment more. I also like the different look - it’s still drawing, but with a computer tablet.

When can we see Beaches (working title) ?
It will be shown in Inverness, at the Gallery from Sept 22nd to Oct 3rd, The films will be shown on computer, together with an exhibition of the artwork.I’m hoping to arrange a tour of smaller highland venues, as the many are interested in small, portable exhibitions like this. And as the work is also of broadcast quality, I may try to interest a broadcaster — either to show the films separately or together. The films I’ve made on Flash will also be suitable for screening on the web, on the Red kite website, as well as other short film sites.

And after that?
In between finishing films for the studio, and putting on the exhibition, I’m working on an Opera, The Seer, based on the life of the Brahan Seer. This is the centrepiece of the Festival of the Second Sight, held in Dingwall, Easter Ross and the Black Isle. The opera performances are on September 14 and 15 at Dingwall Town Hall.

How did you become involved in this?
My Dad, John Bevan Baker, composed the music. The staging will be sparse, on a white stage, but the Seers’ prophecies will be animated and projected onto the stage. I’m really excited about this. After that I’ll be putting some more time into Red Kite’s projects: I want to see a healthy mix of things being made in the studio.

What is Red Kite working on just now?
We’re making a cartoon series based on the popular children’s books by Frank Rodgers about Wilf, The Witch’s Dog — that’s a big project. And Ken is producing a 3D puppet animation series Abercrombies Hope with Wark Clements". The studio recently burned down only three weeks before wrapping, so sets have to be rebuilt. We’re also working on a film for the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Edinburgh — The Return of the Natives. We’re also producing 3 films for Channel Four.
We want to keep pitching for commercials — though it’s hard to get those in Scotland - as well as working on series, and with so many good graduates coming out of college who want to stay here, we want to help them apply to film schemes.

Why Red Kite?
The Red Kite vanished from Scotland many years ago. Just when we decided to come back to Scotland, they were reintroduced to the Black Isle. It seemed like a good symbol — and they’re thriving.

For more information on Red Kite or to contact Rachel directly, visit the web site at:


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