The Breadwinner / The Butler Gallery / Kilkenny 2018
Client: The Butler Gallery
Role: Exhibition Designer

Anna O'Sullivan
Framing: Bespoke & Co


The Breadwinner, an Academy Award Nominated film by Cartoon Saloon, gives an honest portrayal of the life of a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

The challenge was to design an interactive, multi-media exhibition that was respectful of the sensitive and serious nature of the film, while creating an engaging and vibrant space for visitors of all ages.

The brief included presenting the historical context of the film, animation techniques used to make the film, a space for viewing video content, and an interactive hands-on workshop area where visitors could engage with film content.

Exhibition Design

Each of the four rooms in the gallery evolved out of a different aspect of the film.

In room one, visitors were greeted with imposing walls and a solitary window frame, referencing the family home and prison cell seen in the film. The lighting and confined space set an appropriately serious tone.

Stacked crates framed views of artworks and offered themselves as panel display units in room two. Each crate had a pattern charred into it to absorb a different fragrant spice oil, filling the space with Afghan market smells.

Room three became a traditional Afghan sitting room to sit, relax and view video content. Here one learned more about the reality of life for women in Afghanistan as well as how the film was made.

In room four stood a decagon structure reminiscent of the imaginary wells featured in the film. Within the decagon audio and animations from the film looped, providing placeholders for visitors to position their own paper cut-out artworks.

Each room was audio described and presented using Discovery Pens to maximise accessibility.