Animation graduate wins internationally-coveted award for stop motion short

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A Salford graduate has won a prestigious international award for her stop motion short film.

Cheryl Blake, a graduate of Salford's first cohort from the MA Animation programme, won Best Student Animation at The Ray Harryhausen Awards last month for her stunning short Seaglass.

Ray Harryhausen is widely known for creating the iconic stop motion model animation technique and the yearly awards are run by a Foundation in his name. They are highly coveted by animators across the world with this year's event taking place in Auchterarder, near Perth, Scotland.

Seaglass is an enchanting animation that tells the story of Fern who, struggling in the fog of grief, embarks on a journey to rediscover the light that can be found amongst the darkness following bereavement. 

The production uses traditional methods of puppet and paper animation but also encompasses elements of virtual production techniques such as using LED screens for backgrounds.

Cheryl said: "I'm thrilled to have won Best Student Animation from The Ray Harryhausen Awards! In the world of stop motion animation and filmmaking, the technique and skills that Ray Harryhausen employed are hugely influential so to be recognised by the Foundation is a real honour.

“Making my short film Seaglass was achieved with huge support from University of Salford staff including Annabeth Robinson, Steve Boot and Owen Calderbank as well as drawing on the skills of my fellow students now alumni Laura Dunleavy and Phoebe Niemira - so a big thank you to them too.”

MA Screen Acting graduate Laura lent her voice to the production whilst graduating BA Costume Design student Phoebe provided the costume. 

The film has been touring animation and film festivals in recent months, such as the 2024 Brighton International Animation Festival, 2024 Athens Animfest, Imagina Anifest 2023 and the 2024 AniMate - Australian Animation Film Festival. Seaglass has also been exhibited at Waterside Arts in Sale as part of the Screenlight Series run by Creative Industries Trafford. 

Annabeth Robinson, Course Leader in Animation at the University of Salford, said: "This is a well deserved accomplishment for Cheryl, her animation sensitively portrayed the themes of grief with a vibrant design and approach that makes it accessible to all.

“She took great delight in using effectively the collaboration with her fellow cohort, resources and staff to achieve her goals. The animation has been selection at many festivals around the world, including AniMate - the Australian Animation Film Festival where she was a semi-finalist earlier this year.”

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.