Animation students from the University of Westminster have revealed a 50-metre wide and 50-metre long grass artwork of the Lumiere Brothers to kick off the 125th anniversary celebration of the University’s heritage of being known as the birthplace of British cinema. For the very first time, in 1896 the Lumiere Brothers showed the moving film of a train to a paying audience in Britain at the University’s Regent Street Cinema that is still being used today.

Lumiere Brothers in the grass
Credit: Connor Turansky

Braving winds and heavy rain on the University’s Harrow Campus, the dedicated Animation students arranged and pegged down black square masking sheets like pixels within a grid according to a map sketched on graph paper. The areas covered have gradually turned a sickly grade of neon yellow due to the lack of sunshine. The Quintin Hogg Trust-funded experiment gave the lawn in front of their halls a temporary tattoo in form of a pixelated portrait of the Lumiere Brothers, which they have just revealed by peeling away the sheets and sending up a helicopter drone to take an aerial shot of their artwork.

The portrait will be visible for around two weeks, when the lawn will gradually return to green.

As part of the project, schools across London will be encouraged to create their own photographic prints on their lawns using the insights of Westminster Animation students.

Kerrie Portman, Animation BA Honours student, said: "I loved this project because honouring the Lumiere Brothers, the pioneers of cinema, by masking their photo onto the grass is so unique! Film-making and digital entertainment is now done predominantly with technology, so it's nice to celebrate their anniversary by integrating the organic life-cycle of grass.”

Animation BA Course Leader Stephen Ryley said: "We had a lot of fun battling with the elements, and the fact that no-one has ever tried to make a photo in this way before gave the project an extra shot of excitement. 

“We are always keen to encourage our students to question their assumptions, develop their curiosity, and be on the lookout for alternative approaches, so this innovative experiment was the perfect ice-breaker to launch our new academic year. 

“We are keeping the sheets, because if this one works, we will attempt a world record next time."

Learn more about the Animation BA Honours course.

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