The Tempest

I’m long back from Ukraine, visiting family and having had a long unscheduled guilty holiday from the blog. Oh well.

Seeing an open-air production of Shakespeare’s ‘All’s well that ends well’ got me wondering what my favourite Shakespeare play is (answer: The Tempest), and jogged a memory of a beautiful puppet version from childhood. A whole series of animated Shakespeare tales was commissioned by the BBC in the early 1990s from the Christmas Films Studio in Moscow. Luckily, they’re available on youtube to share here:


Thanks to some new friends I am becoming properly educated in Ukrainian culture. Meet Чебура́шка (Cheburashka), an unknown species of cute furry creature who turns up in a box of oranges and his friend Крокодил Гена (Krokodil Gena), a bow-tie-wearing, accordian-playing reptile.

Here’s the first episode: Gena the Crocodile, made in 1969 by Roman Kachanov.

Square Dance

Remember that commission I mentioned aaages ago? Well, I finished, wrapped and waved it off in April.

Now, two months on, having allowed any suspense I may have hoped to build up to whither and die (sigh), here’s a post to tell you (and remind me) what it was exactly that I made.





Ta da!


An excellent friend commissioned this blanket for her friend’s first baby. We settled on bamboo wool in cream, yellow and grey, and simple squares in garter stitch so it would be the same on both sides. Before sewing it together I photographed different patterns to help decide the layout, and ended up making this stop motion animation film in the process.


This week (and next) I’m in Ukraine teaching art. Amongst drawing, painting, photography, art history, printing, T-shirt design and a multitude of games, one of my favourite activities so far has been making animations with my pupils. We used stapled booklets of tracing paper, and, starting from the back, drew a picture on each sheet, changing it a little each time. Try this once and you’ll realise how much work went into the old Disney films (24 frames a second to be exact).

Here’s the demonstration piece I made before I arrived. There are 16 different frames in total (numbered in the corner), edited in iPhoto and iMovie.


And here’s one I made earlier.



Act of Terror Documentary

Just seen a short film by Gemma Atkinson that I thought worth sharing. It’s an animation about her experience of UK police misuse of the terrorism act, funded by the resulting settlement.

There’s more information about the film on the act of terror documentary website.

It reminds me of what a powerful weapon a camera can be. This happens to be the subject of the latest This American Life piece – ‘Picture Show’. If you haven’t come across this Chicago Public Radio show before, I’m delighted to introduce you to one of the most thoughtful and varied discussion shows out there in this baffling expanse we call the web. All their past shows are available free here on their archives page.

Okay Knit!

Cary Grant learns to knit!
A little discovery I made after googling “men knitting” (what can I say? everyone has a fetish).
I’d love to see the rest of the film – ‘Mister Lucky’, made in 1943 with Cary Grant as Joe Bascopolous, Laraine Day as Dorothy Bryant and Florence Bates as Mrs Van Every, the knitting instructor.

Some favourite quotes:
“We want a group of obviously masculine men to take up knitting, do it perfectly casually in public places.”
“We’ll educate those little piggies!”
“Take off your hat! Take that cigarette out of your mouth! Now siddown! ..Give him the needles!”
“Oh! Don’t be alarmed young man.. let me look at your hands..”
“You take the one gimick and you stickitinhere like this, and then you take the string and putitbetween the two gimicks and then you takeit and you just..all off!.. that’s all there is to it!”