Ermina Takenova, Animation, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2014 – 2016
Ermina’s passion for animation is rooted in her ability to express more through the use of moving images. By creating characters and imaginary worlds, she gives life to words, emotions and dreams.
As a self-taught animator who embodies both Kazakh and Russian cultures, Ermina is keen to give back to the region’s creative community and heritage by adapting traditional stories to a modern platform.
In Conversation with Ermina
Q: Tell us about your work and how it has evolved since you joined RCA’s Animation programme.
A: Over the two years at the RCA, one of my main areas of research was the Kazakh mythology and folklore, in order to incorporate it into the narrative animated form. My first year was spent on learning new animation techniques and exploring a wide variety of styles. I have learnt a lot about storytelling and script writing, and most importantly I’ve started working with drawn animation – which remained my chosen technique for my graduation project.
The second year was mainly focused around my graduation film, based on the iconic legend of Mankurt, a powerful story of oppression and brain washing, striking in its universal appeal and timelessness. I’ve learnt a lot of new ways of working with animation, as well as, very importantly, sound design. I have gained valuable directorial and managerial experience, as I’ve been working closely with sound designers, musicians, actors and animation production assistants during the production of my film.
My dissertation research of the use anthropomorphism in animation has also been a great contribution towards my practice. By doing an in-depth research into this subject, I have gained a wider conceptual and cultural knowledge, which has also influenced some of my directorial decisions for my graduation film.
Q: What has this scholarship enabled you to achieve?
A: The scholarship has given me an extremely valuable opportunity of being able to do what I love over the last two years. The experience has been enriching and inspiring, I have definitely grown artistically and produced one of my most mature works. The scholarship has also given me the chance to gain more professional experience outside of the RCA too, as I got to travel to Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. During my time at the RCA I have also had my very first personal exhibition in London, in the A-side B-side gallery.
Q: How do you think animation can help impact the younger generation in Kazakhstan?
A: This is a theme that is central to my graduation film, which is inspired by the mythology of my culture, rooted in pagan religion called Tengriism. The traditions are kept and valued in my country, but often the younger generation is not aware of the origins of the rituals. Through film, I look to spread wider knowledge about our cultural heritage in Kazakhstan and internationally.
Q: Overall, what difference you think an RCA MA degree has made to your practice:
A: Completing an MA in Animation at the RCA has given me a huge amount of technical and conceptual knowledge from a wide varieties of workshops in drawing and creative writing. I feel much more confident as a creative professional and have a better understanding on how to keep developing my practice, as well as a much clearer understanding of the creative industry. I have found the community at the RCA to be an effective learning platform too, as I got to meet people from a variety of professional and cultural backgrounds, which I believe was very beneficial to my practice by brainstorming with my peers and learning different ways of working from them.
Q: What plans do you have now that you have graduated from the RCA?
A: I’m going to work in the creative industry, specialising in both animation and illustration. I’m hoping to mainly focus around story-telling and work towards producing illustrated books, quest games, animated short films and TV series. I will continue to use elements from Kazakh mythology and folklore as one of my sources of inspiration. I’m hoping to contribute to the cultural development of my country, specifically in the area of illustration and animation.