Talking heads! Teenagers animate statue for major exhibition

Constantine's statue is first unveiled, in a still from the film
12 Nov 2013 @ 12.15 pm
| Education, History

York teenagers have helped create an animated film which explains all about one of the city’s most treasured possessions.

The hugely entertaining video stars the Roman emperor Constantine – or the head of his statue to be specific – telling his story.

It was put together by four young people from All Saints and Millthorpe Schools in York: Sally Fawcett, Isaac Overton, Luke Field and Charlie Hemingway.

And it will be seen by 90,000 people a year as part of the Roman York: Meet The People Of The Empire exhibition.

The quartet, all aged 14 and 15, spent a week in the summer with the animation company, Biomation. They have created a cracking little film which is funny and fascinating.

It turns out that Constantine’s head, recently returned to the Yorkshire Museum, began life as a lump of marble in a Greek quarry. And it was originally sculpted into the face of Greek god Hercules.

But in the year 306, when Constantine was declared emperor by his dad in York, the council needed a statue of him. And quick.

So a sculptor was commissioned to turn Hercules into Constantine…

Constantine's statue is first unveiled, in a still from the film
Constantine’s statue is first unveiled, in a still from the film
Happy to be home… the head back at the Yorkshire Museum
Happy to be home… the head back at the Yorkshire Museum

Constantine’s head has recently returned to the Yorkshire Museum after a year on loan in Italy. And to welcome the old guy back, the film was commissioned via the museum’s Genesis outreach project.

Sally, Isaac, Luke and Charlie saw the opportunity advertised and applied to take part.

During the week they researched the story of Constantine and his marble head by exploring our Roman exhibition and interviewing head curator Andrew Morris and learning manager Amy Baggaley.

Then, they put together a storyboard and designed the characters and sets, working with Amy and Dan and Simon from Biomation to make it historically as accurate as possible.

Before the filming started they visited the Minster Stoneyard to meet the stonemasons and record the real sounds of carving stone. Luke provided Constantine’s voice.

Genesis is a community project that encourages innovative and exciting creative projects, displays and events which can add a contemporary edge to collections of museum objects at the Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum, and York Art Gallery.