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HomeZZ - old posts archive (pre 2024)Art ReviewThe Quay Brothers at Victoria Gallery

The Quay Brothers at Victoria Gallery


I love this stuff, I can stand and stare for ages, it really gets the imagination going. And I like the way the sets are displayed on top of the trunks which are used to ship them around the world.

There are film viewings and workshops too. If you’re not familiar with their films I’m sure you can find some online.

‘Dormitorium: an exhibition of sets and films by the Quay Brothers’
25 March – 28 May 2011
at University of Liverpool, Victoria Gallery & Museum.

This exhibition features 10 miniature-sized film sets including puppets, props and characters which have been used in the Quay’s unique and innovative films.

Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twins, are highly influential stop motion animators renowned for their craftsmanlike methods, their attention to detail and their unusual sources of inspiration.

The Quay Brothers’ films are described as surreal, moody and macabre representing a world frozen in time, full of cobwebs and dust, mirrors and strange machines.

The brothers are heavily influenced by Eastern European visual and literary culture and in particular, Polish animators, Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowyczyk, as well as writers like Franz Kafka and Belgian playwright Michel de Ghelderode.

The set of one of their best-known films, ‘Streets of Crocodiles’, is on display in the exhibition and the film is being shown in the gallery.  ‘Street of Crocodiles’ is adapted from a short story by Polish novelist, Bruno Schulz, and was selected by Terry Gilliam as one of the top 10 best animated films of all time.  ‘This Unnameable Little Broom’ is also being shown in the Gallery and a programme of films by the Quay Brothers and Eastern European animators who influenced their work will be screened in the Leggate Theatre.

Stephen and Timothy Quay were born near Philadelphia in 1947.  After graduating at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1969 they went on to study illustrations and graphics at the Royal College of Art in London where they started to make animated short films.

Easter Family Workshop – Victorian Toys

Tuesday 12, Tuesday 19 & Thursday 21 April 2011                              Drop in between 1.00 & 3.00pm                                                            Tate Hall Museum.  No booking required.

Create your own Victorian ‘Wonder Turner’ and make pictures come to life!  Thaumotropes are an early form of animation that create the illusion of movement.

Family Saturday – Lights, Camera, Action!

Saturday 30 April 2011. Drop in between 1.00 & 4.00pm                       Tate Hall Museum.  No booking required.

Create your own mini film set inspired by the Quay Brothers using a range of recycled materials.

Films by the Quay Brothers

Saturday 7, Tuesday 10 & Thursday 26 May 2011.                                1.00 – 2.00pm.  Leggate Lecture Theatre.  No booking required.          With a special introduction by David Sorfa on 7 & 10 May.

The Quay Brothers have been creating their unique blend of puppetry and stop-motion animation for nearly 30 years.  Their films evoke half-remembered dreams and long suppressed childhood memories, fascinating and deeply unsettling by turns.  At each screening we will showcase a selection of their short films:

1.  This Unnameable Little Broom 1985 – 11 minutes

2.  Street of Crocodiles 1986 – 20 minutes

3.  Stille Nacht I – Dramolet – 2 minutes

4.  In Absentia 2000 – 20 minutes

All films are rated Certificate 15

Films which influenced Quay Brothers

Thursday 12, Thursday 19 & Saturday 28 May 2011.                            1.00 – 2.00pm.  Leggate Lecture Theatre.  No booking required.

The Quays are heavily influenced by twentieth-century Eastern European film and culture.  During these screenings we will be showing a selection of films by Jan Svankmajer, Jan Lenica and Waldyslaw Starewicz, all of whom have influenced the Quay Brothers.

Jan Svankmajer (born 1934)

The Coffin House/Punch and Judy 1966 – 10 minutes

Jan Lenica (1928-2001)

Dom (with Borowczyk) 1958 – 11 minutes

Labirynt 1963 – 15 minutes

Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882-1965)

The Cameraman’s Revenge 1912 – 12 minutes

All films are rated Certificate 15

Film Screening at FACT, Wood Street, Liverpool

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes

Wednesday 18 May 2011. 6.30 – 8.00pm   Admission Prices Apply.  Please visit

This live action feature film is a dark fairy-tale.  Set in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, a piano tuner attempts to rescue an opera singer from the clutches of a mad doctor.

With an introduction by curator Matthew Clough and Paul Watry.

Gallery Talk – The Virtual Museums of the Brothers Quay

Wednesday 25 May 2011. 12.30 – 1.15pm                                              Gallery 6.  No booking required.

David Sorfa is senior lecturer in Film Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and managing editor of the journal Film-Philosophy.  He has published on Michael Haneke, Jan Svankmajer and Czech cinema, while his article on the Quay Brothers’ Institute Benjamenta will appear shortly.