The girl on the swing

I have been drawing the opening sequence for my documentary about Edward Lear, “Following Lear”. Here is the latest version with some detail:

It is a complex scene featuring a swing in a music hall.

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One of my early memories of watching black and white tv was of a girl on a swing in “the Good Old Days”. I think that swing was brought out on a number of occasions actually, and at least once, in the 25th Anniversay season, Les Dawson was strapped to it in drag. It was generally there for the song “Swing me just a little bit higher, Obadiah do”. It made a lyric loaded with innuendo seem homely and very jolly.

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The music hall was full of daring routines and “the Good Old days” captured some of that spirit throwing acrobats and trapeze artistes directly into the auditorium. In the mid 19th Century, there was a craze for tightrope walking over the heads of the audience. Brilliant! I wonder how often there were accidents?

One of the early films made by Dame Joan Collins in 1955 was about Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, tied up in a messy muder trial and called “the Girl in the red velvet swing”. Of course, at a time when she was dazzling in BA and Cinzano adverts, she went on to make a slightly more scandalous film featuring an aquatic swing that arguably re-ignited her career, was based on a book by her sister Jackie, and somewhat incongruously, propelled her as staple fodder for family viewing in nearly a decade of “Dynasty”. What seemed very daring in the “Stud” and the “Bitch”, however, would today seem tame, and the thought of an A- grade star like Joan Collins getting involved in such stuff would no longer raise an eyebrow, particularly after Gielgud, Helen Mirren and O’Toole romped through “Caligula” at the end of the 80s.

I like the “Girl in the Red Velvet swing” though; it treats the subjects rather better than the subsequent film “Ragtime” which is both pedestrian and laboured. The publicity photos for La Collins, moreoever, are a treat. They are even better than the movie! Doesn’t she look radiant!

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twiggyThere is also a swing scene, though fairly modest in “the Boyfriend”, designed by Tony Walton and a great scene in an early Angela Lansbury film,”Till the Clouds roll by” .

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I think I have now looked at almost all the swings in the movies!

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The problem with swings is that every single frame represents a change in perspective- a nighmare for 2d drawing and I have had a few attempts so far. I am quietly pleased with the lastest effortwhich I will work on over the next month.

The music is by David Watson and the song is sung by Thomasin Tresize. If the spirit of the animation is a bit racy, I suppose that is to do with Joan Collins as much as with the hint of naughtiness that Tom suggests as she sings it!

I think it is meditative of course…. I tried to time the swing to the bars of music and it looks too premeditated- a bit like an early Mickey Mouse film. The idea of timing animation to hit the beat gave the whole screen animation/ music industry a very bad name, and it is bizarre that this was taking place at exactly the same time that Astaire was developing his technique of dancing OFF the beat. It’s when the dancer hits the beat at a specific moment that the magic happens. So the swinging motion is now independent of the beat (just).

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Here’s the sequence partly storyboarded:

and here is an early sketch:

 

Tidying up the Lear and comments on Lucy Worsley

 

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I am just finishing the final sequences of a youtube treatment of the Lear Suite by DAVID WATSON. It should be ready in the next few days for posting!

Meanwhile, here is a recent review of Episode 2 of “British History’s Biggest Fibs”:

Columnist James Waller-Davies gives his view of some of the recent events on television. This column is the most read television column in the entire English speaking world. It’s true. Friendly Russian hackers have leaked the news from a Moldovan website and it’s important this information is shared with you. Yes, it’s ‘fake news’ season. The whole world is gazing, like Alice, into a topsy-turvy looking glass of the make believe. Orwell’s ‘doublespeak’ is topping the book charts again and nothing, it seems, is believable. It is nothing new according to British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley (BBC4). Worsley’s entertaining and informative revision of some the biggest myths of British history is a timely reminder that there’s nothing new about ‘fake news’ – the state, our state, has been up to it for centuries. This week’s topic was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Britons cheered the arrival of a new king and queen, William and Mary, from over the channel in what is now the Netherlands. But as Worsley reminds us, that’s a great big lie – it was, in fact, an armed invasion incited by a band of English traitors and an example of ‘fake new’, seventeenth century style. Worsley is a refreshing change to history programming, which in recent years has been overly dumbed down and ruined by soft focus re-enactments and mockumentary dramatisations. That’s not to say Worsley isn’t beyond a bit self-parody and fancy-dress herself, but she is a reminder that an expert, talking engagingly and enthusiastically can be entertaining enough.

Read more at: http://www.bostonstandard.co.uk/whats-on/arts/tv-column-british-history-s-biggest-fibs-with-lucy-worsley-brexit-bill-debate-this-week-1-7806160

Even more Edward Lear!

Lear wrote some many limericks that there is really no end to the number of crazy drawings possible. Here are a couple of pictures for the new film that are loose versions of what we are also trying to animate for the “Following Lear” project – when it gets properly or fully financed! In the meantime..

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Oh and here is one I did yesterday with a picture of Stirling castle in the background. Sometimes, I rather miss the days when I was at St Andrews… Scotland is such a glorious country in all respects!

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The matter of EU Citizens in the UK

I am delighted that this issue is receiving more and more attention and support. I hope the Prime Minister will take note and act appropriately. If Mr Junker and his cohorts wish to bargain with people’s lives in this way, we in the UK should make it clear that there is a moral high ground and we have taken it. I am astonished m. Junker did not seize such ground himself but I am deeply disheartened that Mrs May has, even now, left it so long.

We need to reassure EU citizens resident here at the time of the Referendum that, whatever the outcome of future negotiations with the EU, we acknowledge and confirm that their faith in Britain was not and will not be misplaced.

Here are my scribbles during the lunchtime news a few minutes ago. I am afraid I am so busy with Edward Lear, he has crept into this page anyway… Apologies.

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Drawings of Edward Lear

While Edward Lear often drew cartoons of himself, he was also sketched and photographed a number of times. I have copied some of these images for a quick film I am making to illustrate the suite composed by David Watson, and that uses the themes from some of the songs he wrote for our project “Following Lear”. It is always interesting when looking closely at Lear how he is often looking into the distance. I think this is less to do with the mechanics of the camera and more to do with his general air of melancholy.

More than that, I learnt that a camera remained in the Kokali family and was passed around various houses in Corfu. This camera dates back to the period when Lear was at his most active drawing and sketching images of the landscape in Greece, Turkey and Albania. It is possible that Lear used the camera in his work, that he was comfortable with the machine and relaxed in its company.

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Holman Hunt was a good friend and encouraged Lear to paint in teh open air. Lear did so but quickly gave up the effort and went back to his earlier system of creating detailed sketches, often annotated in modern Greek, a language he had studied and picked up in Corfu.

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The elderly Lear:

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and the Young Lear:

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BBC and Edward Lear

Lucy Worsley’s first episode of “British History’s Biggest Fibs” aired last night and some very positive reviews in the Press today. My graphics looked very good and, indeed, I noticed that my Shakespeare drawing got used rather more than I expected! All worthwhile. Do, meanwhile, check it out on BBCiplayer!

The title changed a few times during production, so here is a different version of the title sequence:

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Next week is the Glorious Revolution (a contrast to the french Revolution, of course) and the final week will be the British Raj.

The Producer wrote to me today to say that the first programme had got an audience of 1.3 million, very good indeed for BBC4 which usually gets audiences of about 500,000.

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Meanwhile, here is my version of a painting Lear did in 1863 of the island of Philae which will accompany “the Lear Suite” by David Watson:screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-18-08-51

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Some Edward Lear Pictures

David Watson has put together many of the Edward Lear compositions to form a Suite. We shall post a version of this shortly. In the meantime, in celebration, here are some Edward Lear illustrations.

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Here is the Dong with a luminous nose-

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the owl and the pussycat/ the refugee crisis

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This is my image in response to Toshiko Hasumi’s manga outrage. The text reads: “Asylum* needed”

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You don’t have to be cute to need help

Refugees are not the enemy- they are in need

They did not choose to be victims- of war, of prejudice, of abuse.

The original picture of Judi in a Lebanese refugee camp was taken by Jonathan Hyams. I have drawn a quick picture of him here:

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Asylum is a greek word!! ἄσυλον