Sunday, August 26, 2012

days off from Narnia

After my earlier post catching up on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe puppet making, I wanted to share some pictures from my (very few and far between) days off from the Narnia workshop:

tea and homemade Battenburg cake at the Farnham Maltings Vintage Fair

a black sheep at the Coram's Fields City Farm in London, round the corner
from our rehearsal hall at the London Welsh Centre

Solo the chicken asking to be let in to my friends' Wiltshire cottage

when a problem comes along, you must whippet!

Salisbury Plain, taken on a day trip to Stonehenge  and Bath with my aunt and
uncle and a coach full of high school students visiting from the States

despite living in relative proximity for years, this was my first trip
to Stonehenge since I was fifteen

view of Bath Abbey from inside the Roman Baths

Bath architecture

angels climbing Jacob's Ladder on Bath Abbey

the Royal Crescent in Bath

toy model double-decker bus at the Science Museum in London

grinning wooden sign at the "Dickens and London" exhibition, Museum of London

James Watt's workshop at the Science Museum, London

a cyanotype at the Victoria and Albert museum

England, green and pleasant

despite what one might think, Easter was not a day off in Narnia...
the Easter Bunny did show up to bring us chocolate though!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

through the wardrobe

Earlier this year I spent a couple of months with a crack team of artists and makers creating a new stage version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, held in a purpose-built tent theatre in London's Kensington Gardens. Led by the illustrious Max Humphries, we were tasked with building puppets for the production.

We had a very short time in which to create a small army of giants, centaurs, minotaurs, woodland creatures, dryads, beavers and lions.

Here are some of the dryad (tree spirit) masks in progress:

...and the dryads in action on stage:

These are the Beavers' gloves before the fur has been applied:

Don't they look a bit like pangolins?

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Paul Barnhill and Sophie Louise Dann) on stage wearing their furry beaver gloves:

Aslan the lion was our most important and most difficult creation. Several versions of Aslan were built before we constructed the final puppet. A few early attempts may may be seen here, along with early puppet versions of the beavers and yours truly in giant beaver feet:

The final version of Aslan was built in less that five days, literally with blood, sweat, tears and very, very little sleep. Here are views of our final Aslan under construction in the workshop:

This is what Easter looked like in Narnia:

...and why exhaustion and butane heat tools should not mix:

This video shows Aslan, operated beautifully by Jane Leaney, Christian From and Will Lucas, in action:

Finally, two views of the threesixty° Theatre tents in Kensington Gardens.

The show, designed by Tom Scutt and directed by Rupert Goold, ends its run on September 9th, so if you haven't seen it you still have a little bit of time to get tickets!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I found some very old watercolor drawings while transferring files...

Costume sketch details for The Nutcracker ballet; dancing Sugarplum Attendants, the Prince's slippers, and the Rat King respectively.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

swept away

Nerd chic? Check. Nods to Esther Williams/Busby Berkeley style choreography? Check. Swedish all-girl choral covers of pop songs, folk ballads and a Kate Bush classic? Check.

Yep. There was never any way I wouldn't like The Sweptaways:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

bottoms made out of springs

For the last two days trampolinists have been competing at the Olympics. One of my great uncles was a tumbler (a form of gymnastics) in the 1930s. Shortly after the modern trampoline was invented by George Nissen and Larry Griswold in 1936 my uncle became one of the world's first trampoline athletes. Tragically, he was killed in a trampoline accident while still at university.

The sport has come a long way since the 30s. Witness this amazing trampoline double act from 1950:

(the Schaller Brothers perform on Cavalcade of Stars)

If you're interested in the history of Olympic sports this clip of gymnasts performing in the 1936 Berlin Games is also striking: