9 Dec 2015

The Arts: Before The Dawn set and costume design

Currently on display at London's V&A Museum in an exhibition entitled Make: Believe UK Design for Performance 2011-2015, are set designs by Dick Bird and costume designs by Robert Allsopp for Kate Bush's Before The Dawn shows. 
Included in the display is an intricately detailed model box for Bird's set construction seen during the Ninth Wave section of the show when Kate performed Watching You Without Me in a mock-up of a family living room, whilst murky waves rolled around the scene. Surrounding the model box were black and white drawings and photos of the sets and production - similar to those in the Before The Dawn programme. It was fascinating to see the designs up close. Working in the theatre / entertainment technology industry as I do for my day job, I am rather fascinated by set and costume design and love to see all the intricate details up close - especially when they are linked to shows and artists as close to my heart as Kate Bush! I've tried to show the details of the set design in my photos, which I hope you enjoy. 
Also on show as part of the exhibition were two of the Lords of the Waves (Fish People) costumes in a striking display as you enter the gallery space. Designed by Robert Allsopp, the intricate masks extend from the head and curve down the spine of the wearer in a haunting representation of a fish skeleton. A statement from Allsopp on display alongside the masks reads: "Kate's vision for the dream-like Ninth Wave element of the show included two sinister Lords of the Waves. Their role was both to observe and to control the action alongside a team of masked puppeteers who manipulated huge volumes of silk as waves. Drawing inspiration from a fish skull reference Kate had found, I created masks for the puppeteers and the two Lords, for whom I extended the skulls down to a fishy ribbed spine and tail. These were designed to flex with the performers' bodies, enhancing their movements. The masks were constructed in my workshop, from polyethylene foam material. Much of the task was undertaken by long-time associates Anthony Mason and Simon Warren." 
  The exhibition is open until 3 January 2016 - not long, so if you would like to see it then make sure you don't miss out! It showcases the work of numerous designers with various model boxes, costume designs, puppets and props on display. Well worth a visit this winter.  

More Kate Bush on Lily in the Labyrinth:
- Before The Dawn merchandise up close

All photos copyright Claire / Lily in the Labyrinth 2015. Please do not use without permission.

3 Dec 2015

Peg Dolls: Pinny's House

"In a little china house on a shelf in the sitting room, lives a tiny wooden doll no taller than a pin, and her name is Pinny . . ."
The reason behind my life-long obsession with wooden peg dolls, Pinny's House was broadcast on BBC1 from 1986 and told the story of Pinny - a wooden doll no bigger than a pin (hence her name) who lived in a delicate china house on a shelf next to a toy sail boat. Inhabiting the boat was Victor, the smallest wooden sailor in the world, and together the pair would go on fantastic journeys, often with the help of the children of the house - Tom and Jo. The tales were written and illustrated by Peter Firmin who also worked on such children's classics as The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. Each tale was animated and directed by Oliver Postgate, narrated by Matilda Thorpe and had music by Ar Log. Sadly it seems Pinny's House is often forgotten, but I remember it fondly and thank it for inspiring me, from a very young age, to find out more about wooden dolls. Though our dolls - Lily, Emily, Jessie and our very own Pinny - are not 'the size of a pin', they are from the same family of wooden dolls and share the same simple design, slim, jointed limbs and painted features. Over the years, I have also picked up three of the five published Pinny's House books - again, written and illustrated by Peter Firmin along with other miscellanea depicting these precious dolls, including a small, vintage mug featuring two dancing wooden dolls. My humble collection all began thanks to Pinny's House - a simple, gentle cartoon brought to life by the brilliant Postgate and Firmin. Long live Pinny! 
Above: My collection of Pinny's House books
Above: From the book, 'Pinny Finds A House'
Above: 'Victor is lonely' print by Peter Firmin
Above: The real Pinny and Victor - crafted by Peter Firmin from wood from a holly tree.

Watch an episode of Pinny's House:

More Pinny's House Online:
- Purchase Pinny's House prints directly from Peter Firmin.
- More information about Pinny's House via Little Gems.

Don't forget to check out my other posts on Antique Wooden Peg Dolls:
Peg Doll: Lily Labyrinth
Peg Doll: Jessie
Peg Doll: Emily
Two Dutch Dolls - Mini Pin
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