National Galleries to honour Hollywood special effects guru Ray Harryhausen

The biggest ever celebration of the legendary Hollywood special effects guru Ray Harryhausen is to be staged in Edinburgh.
The biggest ever celebration of the legendary Hollywood special effects guru Ray Harryhausen is to be staged in Edinburgh.
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The biggest ever celebration of the legendary Hollywood special effects guru Ray Harryhausen - whose iconic creations inspired George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and Peter Jackson - is to be staged in Edinburgh.

The National Galleries of Scotland will be celebrating the late Oscar-winner and “stop motion animation” pioneer to coincide with the centenary of his birth.

It is expected to include objects and artefacts linked to his best-known films, including It Came From Beneath The Sea, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, One Million Years B.C. and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

The show, which will open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in May 2020, will be the first time that his entire collection of models, artwork, miniatures, screenplays and archive footage has been showcased.

It will recall how he was original inspired to start creating his own special effects after seeing the original version of King Kong when he was just 13 and making contact with its animator Willis O’Brien.

Harryhausen, whose career in the movies spanned more than 30 years, was born in Los Angeles, but relocated to London in 1960. He was a regular visitor to Scotland thanks to his wife Diana, whose great great grandfather was the Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone. His wife passed away five months after her husband in 2013.

One of his last projects was a statue of Livingstone being attacked by a lion for his birthplace museum in Blantyre.

The Edinburgh exhibition will be drawn from around 50,000 items which are in the care of the Harryhausen Foundation, which he set up in 1986.

Collections manager Connor Heaney said: “Ray established the foundation to protect his vast collection of models and artwork, and to educate future generations on the art of stop-motion animation.

“Interest in his work is stronger than ever, with so many directors and actors citing him as a major inspiration on their own careers. We hope this exhibition in Edinburgh will help to inspire a whole new generation of artists and creators, as well as enthral film fans from around the world.”

Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art at NGS, said: “Ray Harryhausen was a pioneer in the art of stop-motion animation whose influence on blockbuster cinema is still evident, nearly 70 years after his first film.

“His collection will be showcased in its entirety for the first time ever, making it the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of his work ever seen. We’re absolutely delighted we will play host to this huge, career-spanning celebration of his groundbreaking output.”