Snapshot into Sherlock

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A continual onslaught of glossy and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters ensures that the ‘craft’ aspect of film is all-to-often overlooked – unless the costumes are designed by a fashion-week-worthy label (Rodarte, anyone?) Film-goers are presented with a finished product that’s been polished until it shines but the behind-the-scenes processes are almost as fascinating – and a new exhibition from BAFTA-winning production designer Sarah Greenwood is the perfect opportunity to get down-and-dirty with Sherlock Holmes, one of last year’s most successful big-screen franchises.

A Snapshot allows the casual film-lover to get witness the workings of the Sherlock Holmes 2 art department through an exact replica of Greenwood’s workspace, revealing her research material, scripts, notebooks, laptop, drawings, models, illustrations and storyboards from the film. Folders upon folders of visual research offer insight into the creative process, illustrating the epic complexity that goes into the creation of a successful and unique visual identity and charts the creative process through from concept to final cut.

Holmes is set at cusp of the modern age, and the film communicates a clash of old and new. The ever-eccentric Sherlock is a man unafraid of innovative design, and his eclectic travels and enquiring mind are referenced in the chaotic, complex and crammed interior of 221b Baker Street. A quick glance through the research folders reveals everything from dance halls to the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty to narrow Parisian streets, dance halls and gypsy travellers. These photocopied and printed images compete for attention with Degas prints and technical drawings…it’s astonishing that this confusion can give rise to a clear visual concept. As Greenwood herself observes, ‘When it succeeds the art that is produced can be breathtaking and that can only be seen in the final film’.

A Snapshot: Behind the Scenes of Sarah Greenwood’s Sherlock Holmes is at The Arts Gallery, 272 High Holborn, WC1V 7EY until 9 March 2012.

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