Life-size versions of Roald Dahl’s most iconic creations have been hand-crafted from paper and cardboard as part of an exhibition celebrating 100 years since the writer’s birth. Students on Birmingham City University’s Design for Theatre, Performance and Events course have created the unique structures which features a cast of Dahl’s most well-known characters from Matilda and George to Augustus Gloop and Fantastic Mr Fox.
The installation, which is made up of a set and characters constructed entirely from brown paper and cardboard, is on display at Birmingham City University’s Parkside building until February 20. The exhibition imagines a 100th birthday party for Roald Dahl, attended by characters from the writer’s books.
Among the creations are 12 characters, paper trees and furniture – including a replica of the original writing chair Dahl used to pen his classics, reconstructed to the exact dimensions of the piece which now sits in the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire.
The show is made up of 1km of corrugated cardboard and 2km of brown paper, with the first-year students working day and night over 18 days to pull together their creations. The installation concept was designed completely by the students and is lit with specialised set lighting and includes a backdrop replicating the look and sound of giants from the BFG walking through the woods.
Hollie Wright, Module Leader for the project, said: “This year’s installation captures some beautiful details. It really is over to the students to devise methods to complete them to such a high standard of finish with such basic materials. Having only been at university for a few months, the challenge of collaborating on such a scale must be daunting, one which the students embarked on positively. Such lessons in tenacity cannot be taught in a lecture theatre and must be experienced. The sense of elation after many late nights and gruelling days, seeing their hard work come together, is tangible.“
Books referenced in the exhibition include Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Twits. Dahl was born on the 13 September 1916 and passed away in 1990 having written dozens of books and short stories which have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. Away from the written word, he was also an ace fighter pilot, a chocolate historian, a medical inventor and a spy.
Roald Dahl Museum Director Steve Gardam spoke to the students about the writer's life and work on their research trip and visited the installation for a special view. He said: "What fantastic, creative collaboration. It was a privilege to see the work of these talented young people, inspired by their visit to the Museum and 'Dahl Country'. I loved the leafy woodland setting for the 100th birthday party for Roald Dahl, with his empty chair waiting for the guest of honour. So many of his books grew out of the beautiful landscape of the Chilterns, where our Museum is based today, and it seems apt that a great artist – whose main tools were pencil and paper – has been celebrated in an explosion of paper and imagination."