I meant to write about this last week and totally forgot. On Wednesday, 21st June, I went with my buddy Kraig to a talk about Studio Ghibli. The title was "The Art History of..." but right out of the gate the speaker, Dr Shiro Yoshioka, let us know the title wasn't quite right and talk didn't really touch on the "Art" specifically.
I have the book The Art of Spirited Away so when I first saw this event advertised, I thought it'd be more what you get in that book with some additional context so when the talk began, I'll admit there was a small feeling of disappointment.
Having said that, what the talk turned out to be was still very interesting and a worthwhile way to begin the march towards the weekend. Before we got to the origins of the Studio itself, we were taking through a brief history of animation in Japan stretch back as far as WWII, how it changed through the 50s and 60s and how audience's viewing habits helped shape the sort of films and TV shows being produced. This background introduced key players along the way, what their backgrounds were and how they came together to form what would become Studio Ghibli.
It reminded me of my college days when we used to have Art History lessons on a weekly basis. The focus of these lessons were slightly different in that the tutor would show artworks from a certain period or by a certain artist as the springboard to then explain the wider context of what was going on in the world at large, or even just with the particular artist when works were being created.
Like viewing artifacts in a musuem, it helps you apprecite the work on a deeper level knowing what was going on around the creators at the time. Sure, I would have loved to have seen a bit more discussed about the likes of Miyazaki's actual creative process but perhaps that's for another time.