Media Release: Stirling-born animator celebrated at university event


NORMAN McLaren – dubbed ‘Scotland’s most famous animator’ – is being celebrated at a free public event at the University of Stirling.

The Stirling-born animator and director – best known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada – won an Oscar in 1952 for his short film, ‘Neighbours’, as well as 1969 BAFTA for Best Animated Film, ‘Pas de deux’.

In the run-up to the centenary of his birth in 2014, Dr Nichola Dobson will present recent research on McLaren, described as a ‘genius in his field’. The presentation will include screenings of interview clips and some of his films.

The free event takes place in the Pathfoot Lecture Theatre at the University on Friday 18 October, from 1.15 p.m. to 2.15 p.m. To reserve a place, call 01786 467033 or email:

Sarah Bromage from the University of Stirling’s Art Collection said: “Norman McLaren was one of the most innovative animators of the 20th century and is hailed around the world for his advances in animation and experimental film.

“He developed new techniques for creating moving images combining a love of dance and music with a distinctive animation process.

“Despite his award-winning success, he is often missed out of the field of film and animation history.”

At the invitation of another Stirling native, documentary film-maker John Grierson, McLaren moved to Canada in 1941 to work for the country’s National Film Board. He also worked with UNESCO to teach animation techniques to people in China and India.

He went on to become the most-honoured Canadian film-maker, receiving hundreds of prizes, awards and distinctions during his lifetime. One magazine described him as a ‘poet of animation’.

Norman McLaren died in January 1987, aged 72. His works were recently added to UNESCO’S Memory of the World programme, listing the most significant documentary heritage collections in the world.

Said Sarah: “There have been very few publications dedicated to the history of the man and his work and Nichola Dobson’s forthcoming book Between the Frames (Scarecrow Press), seeks to address this omission of a vital part of animation and film history.

“Her talk on 18 October will examine his legacy by focusing on the influences in McLaren’s life, in terms of people, geography, politics and the arts, as well as those he influenced. With direct reference to McLaren’s personal correspondence (much of which has been previously unavailable), the project will consider his life and work, largely in his own words. This will provide a unique insight into a true filmmaking pioneer.

“This event is open to the public – and we hope students, film fans and local people will come along.”

Dr Nichola Dobson is a part-time lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, a founder and editor of Animation Studies from 2006 until 2011 and the recently established new academic blog Animation Studies 2.0. She has published on both animation studies and television, and is currently working on a book on TV animation with Paul Ward for Edinburgh University Press and a book on Scottish animator Norman McLaren.  She began a new role as vice-president of the Society for Animation Studies in autumn 2011.

Find out more about Norman McLaren on Wikipedia:

See Norman McLaren’s work on the National Film Board of Canada’s website:

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