Animator Sophie Marsh shares her new perspective on National Parks

  • Contributor information: CNP

3 November 2021

Campaign for National Parks has unveiled a new animation created by young Bristol artist Sophie Marsh, showing the different ways people enjoy National Parks. We caught up with the 30-year-old to find out more…

How did you first get into animation?

I always like telling silly stories and animation is a way to tell silly stories and make them come to life. When I was at uni, I went on an exchange programme to Bologna in Italy. I was doing an illustration course and I couldn’t get my look right; and because of the language barrier my teacher was always just saying ‘no’, because it was the only thing I could understand. ‘No, no, no.’ Eventually I started trying paper cut-out and she said ‘yes’ and, I was like ‘yay!’. 

How do you go about creating your animations?

Every video I do is very different. I don’t have a set way of doing things. I draw up an animatic to get a rough idea of characters and scenes, then try to work on it in a fairly sequential way. I like making paper animals, so I was trying to squeeze as many of those in as I could. If I had more time there would’ve been lots more birds. 

I thought paper animation would be perfect for this. I love the way it looks, the texture, the character is unlike any other style. It’s got a wonky look to it that I like a lot. Some of the vector stuff can be so clinical – paper animation isn’t; it’s ideal for natural topics and animals. Very organic. So when it came to National Parks, I thought paper was a perfect medium because you get the natural light and shadows to bring it to life a little bit more. 

What do you love about National Parks?

I love National Parks because they’re beautiful. I love the coast especially. I like Exmoor a lot, because you’ve got the Valley of the Rocks and a goat – really wanted to include a goat, but did a castle instead. I like Pembrokeshire Coast as well because you get the coast path. I like my walks and the nature and try and get as far away from people as possible, so I usually go to the furthest ends, where you have to walk a bit to get there. I love being in the wild and National Parks are some of the wilder places in the UK. 

What do you hope to achieve with this animation?

It would be nice if this animation could bring more people who wouldn’t necessarily think about National Parks as a destination to realise that maybe it would be great to visit. So people from cities or people who’ve never visited a National Park before think ‘ooh that looks nice or fun or pretty’ etc.

There’s loads to learn about National Parks in England and Wales; there’s some really special geographical elements to them that we only have in the UK. It brings together a lot of interests, not just about being outdoorsy. If more people learn about National Parks, hopefully they’ll be more protected and we’ll see more of them, and more people enjoying and caring for them. 

Are you aged 19-35 with a story to tell about National Parks? Why not apply for one of the new Campaign for Naitonal Parks National Parks: New Perspectives bursaries – £1,000 funding plus training and mentoring. Find out more here.