The House of Illustration is hosting the UK’s first ever exhibition of handmade background illustrations for classic sci-fi anime films. It will feature drawings and paintings from some of the most influential productions in the genre’s 1990s heyday, including Production I.G’s phenomenally influential 1995 film Ghost in the Shell. This collection of artists, who share an interest in presenting convincing visions of future worlds, have had a defining influence on the style of anime we think of as typical today.
The show will include Hiromasa Ogura’s watercolour paintings for Ghost in the Shell, an anime epic that informed pioneering sci-fi works such as The Matrix and Avatar. Inspired by Asia’s emerging megacities and based on photographs of Hong Kong, Ogura’s work depicts the striking contrast between a derelict Chinese town and ruthless urban development.
Pencil drawings by Takashi Watabe – one of the most important Japanese illustrators of his generation – for 2008’s sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence will also feature. His meticulously realistic style has become a hallmark of Japanese anime films as a whole. The exhibition will also include work from Patlabor: The Movie (1989) and Metropolis(2001), by Mamoru Oshii and Atsushi Takeuchi.
Since the success of Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell, Japanese anime films have been at the heart of global pop culture. A live action remake of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson is released on 31 March 2017.
House of Illustration curator Olivia Ahmad, will be joined in conversation by Anime Architecture’s curator and writer Stefan Riekeles and Helen McCarthy, author of The Anime Encyclopaedia, Anime: A Beginner’s Guide and A Brief History of Manga.
This event is being held in collaboration with House of Illustration. Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan runs from 25 May to 10 September 2017 at House of Illuustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH.
About the contributors
Stefan Riekeles (b. 1976) is a curator and writer based in Berlin and is the curator of Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan. Previously he curated the exhibition Anime Architecture for the Museum of Architecture Drawing in Berlin (2016). In 2015 he curated and produced the exhibition ‘Dortmunder Neu Gold’ about beer, art and alchemy in Dortmund, Germany. He has been the Artistic Director of the Japan Media Arts Festival Dortmund 2011, and curated the exhibition Proto Anime Cut which toured Europe from 2011 to 2013 with stops in Berlin, Dortmund, Barcelona, Madrid, Tallinn and Basel. Riekeles served as the Programme Director of the International Symposium on Electronic Art 2010 (ISEA2010 RUHR) and as project manager of exhibitions for transmediale festival for art and digital culture Berlin among others. He holds an M.A. in Culture Studies and Audio Communication Science from the Humboldt University and the Technical University in Berlin.
Helen McCarthy was the founding editor of Anime UK magazine, editor of Manga Mania magazine, and the author of Anime! A Beginner’s Guide, the first book in the English language on the medium. McCarthy wrote the first book in English devoted to Japanese animation and co-authored the first history of erotic anime in a European language. With a dozen books published in six languages, including Japanese, she is widely recognised as an authority on anime and manga. She has appeared in several anime as a voice actress and produced the UK release of Beast Warriors. Her books include Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation; 500 Essential Anime You Must Own; Manga Cross-Stitch and The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, which won the Harvey Award. She has just completed A Brief History of Manga and The Anime Encyclopaedia.
Olivia Ahmad (b. in London, 1986) is curator at House of Illustration, the UK’s only public gallery dedicated to illustration and graphic arts. Since its opening in 2014, she has been responsible for its programme of exhibitions on historic and contemporary illustration, artist residencies and commissions. Before joining House of Illustration, Olivia worked for the Northern Design Festival, Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. Her recent exhibitions include Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics, Laura Carlin: Ceramics and A New Childhood-Picture Books from Soviet Russia.