South Tyneside Council

Sir Ridley Scott Exhibition

A brand new, flagship library/media centre needed an exhibition with a local flavour and a ‘wow’ factor for its launch.

Sir Ridley Scott was the ideal subject: born in South Shields, with a worldwide profile and reputation, coupled with a body of work that is universally recognized and would allow for an interesting and intriguing exhibition.

It was decided that six of Sir Ridley’s most famous and critically acclaimed movies would form the basis of the exhibition. The featured movies are: Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Robin Hood and The Martian. Each movie has its own dedicated area, formed around a central media tower.

The tower itself is the central feature within the exhibition space, consisting of 21 monitors playing clips via programmed media players from 12 of Sir Ridley’s movies.

The areas for each movie feature a synopsis of the film plus stills and behind the scenes photographs showing Sir Ridley at work, plus little known facts.

Subdued lighting is used in the area featuring two of his most famous films, Blade Runner and Alien. Blade Runner especially has achieved cult status for its stylish portrayal of a Dystopian future, purported to be based on the industrial landscape of Teesside that Sir Ridley encountered growing up in the North East.

There is also an exact replica of the Alien creature in the darkest corner of the exhibition.

Sir Ridley’s work in the advertising industry is well-known and is highlighted not only in the exhibition pod but also within the main exhibition itself. His method of story-boarding his movies in detail stems from his advertising background and enables him to show his actors and cameramen exactly what he expects from each scene before shooting begins.

The exhibition had to be family friendly; not the easiest task due to the predominantly adult themes portrayed in Sir Ridley’s films. This has been achieved through the use of interactives that will appeal to all age groups as well as iPads containing Ridley Scott-related games and facts about the movies that children can digest and enjoy.

Display cases scattered throughout the space feature replica costumes created by pupils from Cleveland College of Art & Design, plus other props such as The Martian helmet which have been procured from other sources.

Contact was established with Sir Ridley’s representatives at Scott Free Productions and RSA (Ridley Scott Associates) in both London and Los Angeles in order to gain access to movie footage and also to seek the approval of the man himself.

For someone fast approaching his 79th birthday he is still amazingly active and has movies scheduled right through 2017. Tracking him down and getting him to look at the exhibition proposals and content was not easy, but when we finally did so, we were pleased to receive an email saying that he was “proud and humbled” to be honoured with an exhibition of his work in his hometown.

Just as importantly, we were delighted that such a well known perfectionist did not want to change a single word or image of our exhibition design.