Pimp My Uke Artist Profile – Gemma Green-Hope

Community Music Wales have challenged leading Welsh artists to design and paint a ukulele in their own unique style. A number of exciting and diverse artists have accepted the challenge, and progress on the ukuleles has already begun.

The next artist we would like to introduce you to is Gemma Green-Hope.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Gemma Green-Hope, I’m an animator and illustrator from Pembrokeshire, West Wales. I live and work in the small town of Newport, surrounded on all sides by hills, woods and sea which often feature in my work.

How would you describe your art style?

I work mostly using traditional techniques, stop motion and hand drawn animation. I make and paint my props and backgrounds using clay, cut paper and gouache. In both my illustration and animation I am drawn to the interaction between human and nature, and love telling bizarre stories.

Who are your main artistic influences?

Because most of my work is animated, film has always been a big influence on me. I love the blend between animation and live action, and my favourite director is Czech surrealist animator Jan Švankmajer. He makes objects come to life and act out stories which are often quite dark and surreal. Similarly, I have always been drawn to folklore and fairytales, and the blend between fantasy and reality. Plants and animals that have the potential to transform and talk. One of my favourite books is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, short stories that take influence from classic fairytales; full of symbolism, fantastical and cruel. Because narrative is such a part of my work, I enjoy graphic novels, and paintings and illustrations that tell a story.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever painted?

I really enjoy painting 3d objects, and make and paint a lot of the props for my animations, so I do sometimes find myself painting bizarre collections of items, like a series of disembodied legs or eyes! But the most unusual thing I’ve ever painted on is probably a ukulele!

How does it compare to painting a ukulele?

The great thing about animation is that you can take everyday objects and give them a character and a story through movement. Painting the ukulele is another way to give it character.

What was your first idea when we asked you to paint a ukulele?

To cover it with a decorative pattern that tells a story, so that you have to look closely and examine the details to see what’s happening.

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