Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Static pictures, waiting to come to life. In the case of the third picture, it'll be coming to life on 25th September at the Cecil Sharp House...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Intense Communion

"Nick Drake, Kate Bush and Talk Talk did not sing old folk songs, but their music resonates with a romantic yearning for an intense communion with nature and the desire to reclaim stolen innocence. In a quest for a workable religious experience, Gustav Holst sought enlightenment in Hindu mythology, while the Incredible String Band folded psychedelia into a cocktail of visionary and beat poetry. Faerie magic and Celtic lore infused the orchestral music of Arnold Bax and John Ireland, as much as the cosmic folk-rock of Donovan and Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Tudor-influenced work of Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock, and the medieval instrumental textures employed by John Renbourn, Pentangle and Shirley and Dolly Collins, present a beguiling form of sonic time travel: silver chains that bind more than a century of music into a continuum." Rob Young, author of Electric Eden. 2010. Folk music is hip again [online] Available at:

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Magical Birthday Bird

William Morris-inspired birthday card with interactive animated bird.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Grandpa's Chocolate Box

Getting back to my 2D roots on an summer school illustration course at Central St Martin's.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Picture Storytelling Scroll

"Pictures are most mysterious
Without explanation they can seem quite meaningless
That is why since the beginning of time,
We've had picture storytellers as the go between..."

This is the storytelling scroll I made for a presentation to fellow Puppetry students at CSSD following the picture storytelling tradition from its origins in 6th Century India to its present day manifestation as...the television. It's made from a charmingly kitch duvet cover I found in a local charity shop.
Performance involved me singing, accompanied by the accordion.

Based on an illustration of picture storytelling in ancient India.

From an illustration of an Italian 'Cantastoria' performer.

A German "Bankelsanger", or bench singer.

Detail from an American scrolling panorama, the 'Sioux War Panorama', a propaganda piece shown to early American settlers encouraging them to settle and have children without fear of the Native American Indians, of whom many were being massacred at the time.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Hundertwasser Haus Miniature Float

I have just returned from five weeks in Brooklyn, New York, doing an internship with the Great Small Works Toy Theatre Festival (see my other blog
The festival opened with a Huge Miniature Parade (it sounds like a contradiction in terms, but actually isn't) - a procession of dozens of miniature floats through the Dumbo district of Brooklyn, accompanied by a marching brass band.
For my miniature float I decided to pay homage to a late artist who has given me endless inspiration since my teenage years - the Austrian Friedensreich Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser. Creator of vivid, vibrant paintings, passionate activist speech-maker (often preferring to make speeches in the nude)on ecological and political matters, and eventually architect and creator of fantasy dwelling spaces which never contained a single straight line or right angle, and which always provided a home for trees and nature as well as human beings.
As Hundertwasser advocated the principles of permaculture and the cyclical patterns of nature in his architectural vision, the basic construction material for my float was recycled cardboard from the streets of Dumbo - the location, interestingly, where cardboard was first manufactured and from which it was shipped across the world.

In its raw cardboard form (nb.unsustainable material used in the process = glue sticks) Ornate pillars made from sections of plastic drinks bottles.

After a few layers of papier mache to clean up cardboard's unsightly cut edges (I have a slight aversion to these and feel that to papier mache cardboard is to truly elevate it to the sculpturing material of the gods)

The finished Hundertwasser Haus, complete with rooftop 'tree holders', into which sprigs of foliage can be inserted to create the tree-filled human dwelling place that Hundertwasser spent his life dreaming of.

Monday, 24 May 2010

the CSSD Student Puppet Festival 2010

The start of May witnessed my grand debut of the Weeping Tree on the big stage! Yes, my first attempt at a full toy theatre performance, to an audience of about 60 people at Central School of Speech and Drama's 2010 Puppet Festival. The producer and I had decided to try projecting the toy theatre's proscenium arch stage via live video feed onto the wall behind me as I performed the piece, because otherwise it seemed obvious that audience members sitting further back would not be able to watch the miniature-sized piece.

As a first attempt this performance raised a few clear issues. Judging by later feedback, no one watched the live video feed - everyone tried to watch the performance as it happened in the toy theatre. Consequently some people struggled to see the piece fully, added to by the fact that shadows cast by foreground scenery obscured some areas within the theatre, and people said the characters sometimes blended in with their surroundings a little too much.
Meanwhile, my tutor told me the piece came across as very meditative but 'lacked performance'.

Hmm, interesting.....

So from this I gather that toy theatre is either performed as toy theatre, in which case it should be performed to a small enough, sufficiently intimate audience so as to be visible to everyone, or it is performed as animation/film, in which case none of that matters and the toy theatre needn't even be present. But it needs to be one or the other, I need to decide whether I am trying to make live theatre or animation.

In terms of my next perfomance of the Weeping Tree, at the Great Small Works International Toy Theater Festival in New York, I will be aiming for the former - live theatre. I will be performing a five minute version to groups of 10-12 people approximately ten times within a one hour period. I won't be meddling around with video feeds this time. And performatively I will be heading in a different direction - previously I felt very strongly about not using any dialogue and letting the haunting medieval music do the speaking...this time I will be narrating.

I'm keeping a different blog of my experience as an intern at the Great Small Works festival here: