LEE WHITMORE
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LEE WHITMORE

I always loved having stories read to me. From the beginning I was drawn to performance and as a child I begged my mother to let me go to acting class. She sent me to the legendary Miss Doris Fitton who ran the Independent Theatre in North Sydney. When, years later I started animating, I realised I was still acting, through the characters.

I didn’t set out with a definite idea of what I was going to do with myself in life. Having parents involved in the visual arts has certainly pointed me in that direction but I never imagined myself as an animator. Now that I look back it is almost logical.

When I was growing up the kind of animations I saw were shorts like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck - gag cartoons, and even though I loved them I never imagined myself making one. The film that inspired me is The Street by the animator Caroline Leaf. It is based on a book by the Canadian writer Mordecai Richler and is a wonderful tale about the death of a grandmother in a Montreal Jewish family. I suddenly realised animations can be about real life too. So I began drawing and writing my own stories.

I have been really fortunate in that my husband, Mark Stiles, has been an incredible support. We have actively shared each other’s interests. He has taught me how to write and has been the script editor on all my projects. In return I have taught him how to draw. Interestingly he is now very good at drawing and quite prolific.

I’ve really jumped at all the chances that have come my way, whether it was working in illustration, theatre, film or diving into issues that concerned me like prison reform and social justice. Working in the arts means you can be interested in just about everything.

I am very pleased to have been involved in the making of the feature film Newsfront, directed by Phillip Noyce. This story is about the importance of always maintaining an Australian identity. I believe this is as true today as it was when the film was made and as an artist being true to oneself is always my central concern.

At the end of the day, when I put down my pencil, my family and friends are the most important thing in my life.