Pixel paradise at retro exhibition

An animator and musician, inspired by retro video games and pixel art, will be hosting their first solo exhibition in their hometown later this month.

Emily Garner – as known as ‘Pastel Castle’ – will present an immersive and multimedia showcase of their work at Pyramid Arts Centre between 29 July and 23 September.

The Warrington-born artist’s style has been heavily influenced by video game environments and the virtual worlds found in Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda and Jade Cocoon.

Emily, 30, said: “These had a huge effect on the way I draw and think today. Gaming and software in the 90s was everything I needed to get into pixel art animation.

“The final ingredient was picking up an electric guitar and learning how music works and what it is to have the magic adventure of being in a band.”

Emily, who grew up in Great Sankey, has since turned Pastel Castle from a passion into a full time job, focusing primarily on creating animated music videos for bands and artists across the world.

Other project work includes video game character design and Emily has even started creating bespoke music on a Nintendo Game Boy using a sequencing program called Little Sound DJ in combination with a vocoder, synths and drum machines.

Emily also frequently collaborates with animator and fellow ‘pixel pusher’ Night Fortress and together they form the studio, ‘Pastel Fortress’ which provides a constant source of ideas and inspiration for both artists.

“The work we do together is always the best and we cover a lot more visual ground,” Emily added.

“With the time we have, we watch a lot of animation. Our all-time favourites include the work of Ben Jones, Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time), René Laloux (Fantastic Planet) and Studio Ghibli.”

The new series of exhibitions in Pyramid’s Atrium have been set up primarily to support Warrington’s emerging or under-the-radar artists.

But Emily’s will be a little different because it will feature a number of chunky 90s TVs and even be in the style of a music video channel from the era.

It is one of the former St Gregory’s High School student’s biggest opportunities since being involved in the ‘River of Light’ festival at Liverpool’s Waterfront where a virtual band called Spritework was created on largescale light cubes.

Emily added: “I’ve always been fascinated with the medium of light. Not only was this my first endeavour in light sculpture and design, but the exhibit was accompanied by my first piece of recorded music as a solo artist. I’ve never worked alone in music before and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Pastel Castle is free to view in Pyramid’s Atrium between 29 July and 23 September