My culture highlights: Cartoon Saloon’s Nora Twomey
Oscar-nominated for her new film ‘The Breadwinner’, the animator reveals her inspirations and recommendations
Nora Twomey: ‘I think Saoirse Ronan is an amazing actress’
Current favourite book?
I’m re-reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I love the use of language in it. In the first page, we see how Pip’s entire family is explained with humour and tragedy, so you want to turn the page. I’m a bit obsessed with the character of Ms Havisham: how she was understood then and how she would have been understood now, and my own relationship to her, because I’m 46 and she couldn’t have been much older than me. Yet when I was a child, I always thought of her as a very old woman.
I was on a long flight recently and I watched the whole of The Handmaid’s Tale. It probably would have been better if I had left it at one episode of a week. In a binge form I kept wanting to fast forward. I felt they expected a whole thought process to happen after you’ve switched off, but you don’t have time for that if you just click on “next”. It’s an interesting story, certainly, and part of the zeitgeist.
I got to see an original self-portrait of Frida Kahlo at a friend’s house recently – I don’t know the exact one, but it was amazing to see the beauty and vibrancy of her work. It’s incredibly engaging, but she doesn’t glorify her subject, you get a sense of flaws and mortality in her work. You often change up pictures on a wall, but I think you could live a lifetime with it and always see something different.
I grew up in the countryside, in Midleton, Co Cork, so I’m never 100 per cent comfortable in cities and the smaller the better. I’d say Kilkenny is my favourite city. There’s a relaxed place of life, everyone smiles and isn’t afraid to make eye contact, whereas in bigger cities, people brush past your shoulder and not acknowledge you. I like to visit the gardens at Butler House. It’s a very old garden with very old rose bushes and apple trees, and at different times of the year you see different plants coming into their own. You can sit on a bench and feel like you’re in a private, secret garden.
I saw an animated film called The Girl Without Hands, which is a handmade French film by one animator, Sébastien Laudenbach. He’s taken a Grimm brothers’ fairytale and expanded it. It’s presented very much its own pace, it doesn’t try to batter you over the head with exciting incidents. I love the exploration of movement: the character’s physicality, gestures, how they blend into the background. It’s a gorgeous mediation on the feminine.
Social media profile
I follow Cartoon Brew (@cartoonbrew) Twitter quite a bit. They always have an interesting take on the animation industry, and it’s not the expected view, so I always keep a look out for their posts.
I like Kate Bush’s 2011 album 50 Words for Snow, which is a great driving album. She’s been extraordinary since the age of 18, but hearing it mature and change over the years has been special.
Saoirse Ronan is impressing everyone right now, and has been since Atonement. Seeing her in Lady Bird and seeing her range – her sensitivity, subtlety and how she handles humour – is just incredible. She’s has three Oscar nominations at the age of 23. At that age or any age, many people wouldn’t be able to handle the things she’s tackled in her roles. She’s an amazing actress.
The Breadwinner premieres at the Audi International Dublin Film Festival (February 21st-March 4th) and receives its hometown premiere as part of Kilkenny Animated (February 23rd-25th). See kilkennyanimated.com for details