We have mentioned before that three “Preston legends” have given their name to new meeting rooms in the UCLan Student’s Union building. Edith Rigby, Nick Park and Freddie Flintoff were the winners.We will introduce each winner in a series of blog posts.
Following Edith Rigby is Nick Park, the creator of Wallace & Gromit. His films have won him fame and fans all over the world- but did you know that the clay creations Wallace & Gromit are created by a Prestonian?
Nick Park, the creator of beloved Wallace and Gromit, was born in Preston in 1958. His father worked as a photographer who worked for the company that designed the infamous Preston Bus Station. He grew up in Walmer Bridge near Preston and attended St Oswald’s Primary School and Cuthbert Mayne High School (now Our Lady’s Catholic High School).
Even as a child Nick showed a creative side, as he loved drawing, especially comics. In addition, he developed an interest in film-making, and he started to make films with his mother’s home movie camera. This passion continued, as Nick went on to study animation at the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire.
It was during this time that Nick developed two characters for his stop-motion films, a bald middle aged inventor and his far more intelligent dog. Both are of course nowadays known to the world as Wallace & Gromit. Wallace was inspired by a real dog Nick encountered on a bus in Preston. Gromit’s name was inspired by grommets, which are rings used for reinforcing holes, which Nick’s brother, an electrician, told him about. Nick’s graduation film was A Grand Day Out, but creating an animation in stop-motion proved to be time consuming, so the film was not finished when his film course finished.
Nick was also busy working for Aardman Studios, which used stop-motion animation. Their most famous creation was Morph, and Nick soon found himself working full time for the studio. The work of the studio was diverse, ranging from short films for television, music videos and commercials.
Work on A Grand Day Out continued during this time. Another short film, Creature Comforts, was also in the work. Both were nominated for an Oscar, with Creature Comforts winning the golden statue. This was not the last time Nick’s films would be nominated and win an Academy Award. Over the past decades his films have been nominated six times, and he has won four times.
He was made an honorary Freeman of the City of Preston in 1997. This honour is one of the highest a city council can award, and only 22 people were presented with it during the 20th century.
A statue of Wallace & Gromit was planned in 2007, but nothing came of it. However, Nick is happy to have a room named after him at UCLan Students’ Union and has sent us a quote!
“It is really lovely that the students have chosen for there to be a ’Nick Park’ room at UCLan. It’s not every day that you have a room named after you, and it’s a great honour. Thank you. I hope that there are lots of inspirational and creative meetings in the ’Nick Park’ room.”
Nick Park, image courtesy of Gary Lee via https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nick-Park
Nick Park with one of his Oscars, image courtesy of BBC News via http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2313157.stm