A 1950s-style film about Dudley Zoo featuring the voice of Black Country comedian and actor Lenny Henry is being screened at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Renowned artist and writer Adam Kossoff - a Reader in the Moving Image at the Faculty of Arts, University of Wolverhampton – is screening his film at the Lichfield Street gallery from Saturday June 20.
The film called Animal Architecture tells the story of Dudley Zoo and the restoration of its unique animal enclosures, which were designed in 1937 by Modernist architect Berthold Lubetkin. The Arts Council of England-funded film, narrated by Dudley-born comedian and actor Lenny Henry, was compiled during the restoration of the zoo's Entrance and Bear Ravine last year.
Adam Kossoff said: "Animal Architecture was filmed on a wind-up 16mm Bolex Camera, capturing the everyday, poetic atmosphere of the zoo. It emulates the black and white documentary style of the 1950's 'Free Cinema' movement. “I filmed it during the restoration of the entrance and the bear ravine to show how modernist design gave as much importance to the architecture of the enclosures as it did to the welfare of the animals.
“Lenny Henry narrates the film which also looks at the relationship between humans and animals and emphasises the zoo's atmosphere and its importance as a leisure and cultural attraction for local people.” Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for Economy, added: “I hope people who love animals, architecture, film or who just want to evoke memories of Dudley Zoo will come and take a look at the film.
“Visitors to our gallery this summer should get a real flavour of the Black Country with Animal Architecture in one gallery space and in another Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s huge wall of 400 photographs showing Wolverhampton and Black Country people in his Black Country Stories exhibition.” Several of the buildings at Dudley Zoo are National Heritage Listed. The zoo attracts thousands of visitors each year. Adam Kossoff’s free film about it will be shown at the gallery until Saturday 19th September.