Tens of thousands see students’ art in ‘Tommy’ musical
Middlesex University students are celebrating after creating stunning artwork for Roger Daltrey’s US and Canada tour of The Who’s “Tommy”, which has just drawn to a close after eight weeks and 28 shows.
The tour has received glowing reviews praising the ‘striking visuals’ and the students’ artwork even featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The iconic rock opera was given a fresh new look by the Middlesex students who provided their interpretations of The Who’s songs including ‘We’re not going to take it’ and ‘Pinball Wizard’. The group of students was given artistic freedom by Daltrey to create abstract and narrative visuals using a variety of methods including film, stop frame photography and 2d and 3d animation, which featured on a large screen behind the band.
The students from art, design and computing courses were selected after impressing Daltrey with their work created for a performance of Tommy at the Royal Albert Hall, London in March 2011, in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. This later went on a UK tour of 15 venues. Daltrey’s US Tour used some of the students’ existing artwork and they also created several new pieces. Bringing together students from different courses enabled the project to benefit from a broader range of techniques and skills.
"I gave the students my ideas about how I perceive Tommy," says Roger Daltrey. "The way I see it is that we're ALL Tommy. I told them to feel it from the inside. And the stuff they came up with is absolutely wonderful."
The students’ creativity was tapped into via Middlesex’s Creative Director in Residence, Colin Payne who led the production team, and Rob Lee, The Who’s webmaster (www.thewho.com) Payne enlisted the talents of creative agency Zeroh and the skills of redLoop (the Middlesex University design and innovation centre, for whom the students were completing a work placement). They worked on the project for four months. Daltrey was personally involved in the creative process, providing valuable feedback.
“Finding such a deep vein of creative talent in the students has been absolutely brilliant,” says Colin Payne, “and together we went on a journey of discovery! We shared professional standards and methods with the students and they enjoyed the challenge. The collaboration was outstanding and I’ve been blown away. Seeing it on stage in front of thousands of fans has been absolutely amazing and the response has been brilliant – a real testament to the quality of the work produced.”
Third year animation student Zac Karayianni from Edmonton, who worked on both the UK and US projects, said: “The project was fun to work on and it provided me with experience of working on a commercial project, as well as working on an innovative and high profile performance which is great to have on my CV. In the future I’d like to open my own studio, so the experience will be invaluable.”
Recent Information and networking graduate Ahmed Karrar from Bayswater said: “I hadn’t illustrated for years but couldn’t let this amazing opportunity pass. I was incredibly flattered when my work was selected for a number of different songs including the opening and final songs of the performance. It has reignited my passion for illustration, which I was able to combine with my computing background.”
Photo courtesy of photographer Matt Kent - www.mattkent.co.uk