Claudia’s creative answer to connecting generations
One of the things that has arisen during the course of the pandemic, is the need to keep connections going. None more so than the connections between the generations; children not physically being able to be with their grandparents is one such connection that has been lost.
When illustration and animation student, Claudia Eiroa Jerez started on one of her final year projects, it sparked an idea she had about connecting different generations with creating a story that both could contribute to, which eventually, would be made into something they could read together.
Thanks to support from Kitt Duff, from CUSU and her lecturer Francis Lowe, Claudia was able to turn this idea into a reality when they supported her application for City of Culture seed-funding which aimed to deliver projects which further engage the university with communities and the wider city – throughout 2021 and beyond.
That is when Exquisite Cov was born. It is a different take on the Exquisite Corpse* but here the story is done by children, with some help from grandparents or guardians, and their teachers.
Its aim is to encourage collaboration between different generations through words and art.
“I am close to both of my grandmothers and got closer as I got older. However, they live far away from me and I miss seeing them. It was partly because of this that I thought about working more on this project as I thought it was something that could bring Coventry children closer to their grandparents as something they could do together.”
The original concept was that the older generation had to choose some words which the children had to include in their original story.
The first part was written by students from Moseley Primary School and the second part by students from Stivichall Primary School. However, because of the pandemic, Claudia had to complete the story herself.
“I originally wanted to create a book of the story, but the restrictions imposed on me caused by the pandemic meant that I couldn’t get a book printed, launched and distributed. It just wasn’t possible to get the two schools, their teachers and the children’s’ grandparents/guardians together in one place.
“So I decided the project should become an online audio-visual book with each page having its own music and animations.”
As well as all the illustrations, Claudia even wrote the music for the online animation. A woman of many talents.
?Claudia was so inspired by the project that she even started dreaming about it as it was a labour of love! She devoted a lot of her time to it and wanted to be the best it could be:
“The funding I got from the City of Culture paid for the materials I needed so I could adapt the project from originally a printed one to an online one. The funding paid for making the animations and creating the music. So, in a way, the children got something different which was an audio visual experience, rather than just a visual one.”
The story “The Lost Whale” that the children created, using the words that were chosen for them, centres on a Queen from a far off land who had a dream about a whale which was an endangered species. She asked one of her sons to go to the sea to find this whale for her as she was concerned about its welfare. The adventures that the Prince goes on in order to find this whale, and the different people he meets along the way, is all captured in the story, which, incidentally, does have a happy ending.
“Children certainly have wonderful imaginations. I wanted to remain faithful to their original text, so some of it you can tell has been written by very young people, but that all adds to the charm of the piece.”
Claudia has had some positive feedback from some of the children and adults who have already seen it.
The benefit of the project is definitely one of connecting the generations and creating something that both can enjoy and read together.
Claudia would love to see this become an annual event where all Primary schools in Coventry can take part and contribute in creating more stories with assistance from their grandparents:
“It is definitely a dream of mine that his will happen one day. I am grateful to the City of Culture, 2021 for supporting my project and who knows, if it does become a success in Coventry, then there is no reason why it couldn’t be rolled out to other parts in the UK.
“Young children have wonderful imaginations and their creativity should be encouraged.”
As a recent graduate, Claudia is back in her native country of Spain and is now looking for work in her chosen field:
“Looking ahead, I would ideally love to work in animation or illustration and am currently looking for suitable opportunities. “I had some wonderful experiences and met amazing individuals and professionals. I do feel that my course helped me to become a better professional."
“I also want to thank the City of Culture, 2021 for believing in my project and giving me the chance to leave a part of me in the city that has been my home for three wonderful years.”
If you want to find out more about recent and future projects that Claudia is working on, you can follow her on Instagram @claudiamakesthingsmove.
*Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis), is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled.