Born in 1930's Prague, Švankmajer found his artistic calling early in life when he was bought a puppet theatre one Christmas. His love of manual special effects informed the stop motion animation style that he would later become known for.

Probably one of his best known works, and the easiest place to start with Švankmajer, is Alice (1988). A loose adaptation of Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, it takes a less fairy-tale style approach as previous films had done and presents the story as a dark and Dali-esque dream sequence. The white rabbit is a piece of taxidermy, Alice gets cocooned in a pot of milk, and the tea party never ends – this is Wonderland as you've never seen it before.

Despite dipping into the realms of feature length, short films are where Švankmajer really comes into his own. Frequently revolving around relationships between people and food, he uses claymation, stop motion, and live action to a mind bending effect.

The film that got me into Švankmajer work is his 1992 triptych Food, in particular the Dumbwaiter sequence. Possibly a commentary on helping others as well as yourself, this short sees two men sit across from each other, however, one of them is a sort of vending machine. One of the men opens his shirt in a suitably mechanised manner to reveal a dumbwaiter inside his chest, which delivers a meal to the man across the table. Kicking the vending machine man produces a napkin from his pocket, throwing him an uppercut causes cutlery to spring from his ears. The catch is, once you're done with your meal, YOU become the vending machine person, and the cycle starts again. An example of the utterly strange, this film will stick with you, whether for its impressive art style, clever narrative, or just because it's pretty darn weird.

So, if you find yourself looking for something surreal, dark, and slightly deranged to get you through this wonderful September Monday, step into Švankmajer's world.

I would like to dedicate this piece to my college tutor Ian Bell, who sadly passed away two years ago this August. Thank you for showing me artists like Švankmajer, and for encouraging me