Our Mythical Childhood went to Greenwich University in June, to the Children and Youth on the Move conference, hosted by the Children’s History Society. The theme was movement, and so we talked about the ways that animators mobilise classical myth in their work for children.
Sonya Nevin showed how she and Steve Simons move myth in their Panoply animations of Greek vases. We were privileged to see their animation of the Sappho Vase for the National Museum of Poland.
Hanna Paulouskaya showed us how Soviet animators such as Aleksandra Shezhko-Blotskaya used classical myth to move around the land as part of a national narrative.
And I talked about how the Australian animation, The Deep, moves myth underwater, using classical myths to appeal to an international audience.
Questions and discussion took us around the world, showing once again how myth functions both locally and universally, and to what ends We talked about the rights of the mermaid, about what a siren really looks like, and what they really get up to. We talked about how myth is put to use, encouraging Soviet schoolchildren to travel, for instance, or connecting Australian viewers to a wider world of mystery and story. Sonya showed us how children move myth to their own ends, through the activities she and Steve give them–making their own shields and vases, for instance, and incorporating them in their own stories and mythology.
The conference in general was emotionally moving, looking at how children move (or are forced to move) around the world, and also about how children’s culture moves through social changes, and how children move culture on, transforming and reshaping adult ideas for new generations. Putting animation and mythology into these contexts, it is clear that mythology moves as culture moves, offering useful ways to frame children’s experiences and the way that reception is framed in its turn.
— Elizabeth Hale