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Paul Bush, Noted British Experimental Animator, Tragically Killed

  On 17 August 2023, the world of animation lost one of the most creative and innovative animators with the passing of 67-year-old Paul Bush.

  On 17 August 2023, the world of animation lost one of the most creative and innovative animators in the field of experimental film with the passing of 67-year-old Paul Bush. In announcing his death his death his son Lewis posted on Paul’s Facebook page “My sister Eva and I are both devastated that our father Paul Bush died last Thursday while motorcycling in Wales. We loved him very much”.

Born in North London on 2 February 1956, he was the son of classical composer Geoffrey Bush. After studying Fine Art at Central School and Goldsmith’s College, he taught himself how to make films while a member of the London Film Makers Co-op. He taught at Goldsmith’s until 2001 when he turned his attention full-time to animating at his company, Ancient Mariner Productions.

Always an innovator, Bush pioneered a technique of scratch-making which he employed in His Comedy inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy (1994) as well as in The Albatross (1998) and Secret Love (2003). The process involves scratching frame by frame directly into the surface of color film stock. This creates an animated sequence that resembles the texture of woodcuts.

He said that he liked to cross the boundaries between documentary, fiction, and animation and experiment with different techniques.  Furniture Poetry (1999) marks a transition from his previous style of animation to his painstaking oscillating pixilation technique. In the film, which is a particular favorite of mine, tables turn into chairs, green apples become red apples and then turn into pears, changing before our eyes at 24 frames a second.

Paul’s expertise and position of respect as a creative artist were acknowledged when museums in England and Switzerland gave him special after-hours access to film rare objects in their collections for The Five Minute Museum (2015). He described the film as “... a romp through the museums of England and Switzerland in which objects on display come to life and reveal the stories of their creation. It is a celebration of chaotic diversity conjured by the human hand and mind, and the eccentricity of museum collectors”.

In his 1’ 30” film Busby Berkeley’s Tribute to Mae West (2002) Paul displayed his wickedly witty side when Hollywood’s most famous choreographer answers Mae West’s classic question “What's that, a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

Paul had a great passion for motorcycles. His 2018 film Ride is his homage to the iconic motorcycle design of the 1950s and ’60s. Hundreds of bikes in the collection of Museu da Mota José Pereira in Southern Portugal were shot frame by frame to create the 5’ 40” film.

As well as his career as an animator, Paul will be remembered by the numerous students at the universities where he has taught, lectured, run workshops and tutored all over the world.

At the time of his death, he had created over 20 short films and one feature film, Babeldom (2012). The 1 hour 24-minute film is an elegy to urban life set against the backdrop of a city. It is a portrait created from images of some of the world’s largest cities.

Luckily Paul will live on with the brilliant collection of films he has left us as well as in the hearts of all of us who were lucky enough to know him; I will miss his warm smile and his dry wit. I know that the world is a better place for having you here Paul.