Visit to Ferens Art Gallery in Hull – 24/09/2013

As part of my induction to the Games Design course, I visited the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. I used this time to research various artists. I have never been to the gallery before, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to get acquainted with the kinds of things that the gallery has on show and to introduce me to the ways I could leverage the exhibitions to help me achieve my goals for the course.

The resources that can be found within the building would be great starting points for many things that we will be doing in Games Design. A few of these things that spring to mind are as follows:

  • Reference points for drawing characters;

  • Inspiration for settings/themes;

  • Study of sculptures for assistance with 3D modelling;

  • Study of the architecture of the building for level design;

Peter Howson

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Peter is an artist from Scotland. The painting on display at the gallery is called “Mr. Great Hearts”, which is inspired by a book called “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan.

This is a painting of a fairly large, muscular man. On first glance, the subject reminded me greatly of Kratos from the God of War series of games. I was drawn straight away to this painting as it was in a style that I particularly liked.

Having looked into some more of Peter Howson’s work online, I can see that he does a lot of portrait work on a biblical theme. He also has produced more portrait work of characters and also visited Bosnia during the war in 1993. With this in mind, I could look at Peter’s work as a source of inspiration for drawing of characters.

John Keane

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John Keane is an artist from England. The painting on display at the gallery is called “Fairy Tales of London”. This depicts a woman in an urban landscape.

This particular piece of work was described to portray the “Guerilla Warfare of Urban Life”.The setting is fairly bleak and the environment looks harsh and threatening. When I first saw this picture, I instantly thought about the use of urban landscapes in games. A lot of modern games make use of incredibly harsh looking urban environments. A great example of this (although maybe slightly extreme when compared with the above piece) would be “The Last of Us“.

John Keane’s other works are heavily influenced by politics. His portfolio is made up of paintings of events, such as a series about the assassination of John F. Kennedy (called “Truth, Lies and Super-8”) and a series about  Northern Ireland (called “The Other Cheek?”).

Seamus Nicolson

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Seamus Nicolson is a photographer based in London. The pieces in the museum were untitled.

The photographs on display were of two young people who live in the photographer’s hometown, seemingly going about their daily lives.

Seamus’ work tends to be focused on his local area, focusing on young people’s place in defining identity. He tends to lean on themes of fashion, music and popular culture. A lot of Games heavily reference these things and look to them for inspiration and usually end up referencing them quite heavily, so I can see Seamus’ work being very good to look at for these purposes.

Bettina von Zwehl

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Bettina von Zwehl is a German photographer. The work on display was No’s 1, 5, 7 and 8 from a series called “Alina”.

These photographs of women wearing white vests on a plain white backdrop. I found this piece of work to be very interesting. Emphasis is drawn onto the women as people rather than due to their appearance. This is achieved thanks to the use of colour.

Bettina’s work is referred to as “Psychological Portraiture” within the gallery. I find this concept very interesting as it demonstrates how an image can make you think however the designer wants you to. This is obviously something that is very prevalent in Games Design. A great example of this would be “Heavy Rain“.

Calum Colvin

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Calum Colvin is a Scottish artist/photographer. The work on display was called “Siren”. Calum’s work seems to consist of photographs of 3D objects to create optical illusions. The piece depicts a woman floating on a sea with various objects. The text in the gallery says that the artist is trying to convey that the women has been “launched out in a ship of fools on a sea of nonsense”.

I found this image to be very interesting, as the image is quite surreal. The backdrop of the image appears to be a wallpapered wall, and there are lots of random objects dotted around the image, such as a painting, an Accordion, bottles, newspaper and a guitar. I see this as the artist trying to communicate the amount of nonsense in the world and the woman is merely a passenger wading through the nonsense.

Something I am working on…

I also took some time to study the building itself in further detail. I was able to obtain a map of the building and have taken some photographs which you will be able to find in the Flickr set linked below. I intend to use these photographs and the floor plan to construct a map of the building in UDK (Unreal Development Kit) in my free time. Expect to see more on this fairly soon!

Flickr Set: Here

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