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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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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Make room for Andrea Leadsom!

The New Prime Minister makes it very clear that she is efficient- she had appointed the key members of her cabinet within an hour of kissing hands in Buckingham palace. One of those appointments, Boris Johnson, has sent shockwaves around the world but I think I have already explained for a Turkish outlet precisely why Boris over-egged the “Leave” omelette and why that was such an important thing to do if he was to deny Farage his place at a future Cabinet table- to me, Boris will always be the man who took one for the team, and he did it with a panache no one could ever rival.

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Boris is not just the thinking-man’s Farage, he is quite simply, “thinking man”. Farage, once thought necessary to anyone’s plan for Brexit, like any unwanted ingredient, like rancid butter, has been consigned to the bin of history.

Mrs May also makes a stab at a smile, but it all looks a bit forced. For that reason, I hope she will find room for Andrea Leadsom on her team. Andrea demonstrated last weekend that she is deeply human and the mistake she may or may not have made in no way disqualifies her for high office. I think she could show the humanity of the Cabinet. We need a few tears and we need someone to gleefully explain how to vote twice, or, indeed, to observe that getting a room to meet a Telegraph interviewer at the local hotel might perhaps be misinterpreted. I do not share many of Mrs Leadsom’s views but I have grown to like what she stands for more and more over the last week.

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Ubiquitous Mann

A few weeks’ ago, I wrote about the appalling Ken Livingstone’s rewrite of history and the failure of the BBC to correct the faulty facts. The BBC is unrepentant but Livingstone looks set to explore the wilderness at last. The man behind the exposure was John Mann, who called Livingstone a “nazi apologist”, and who had also attacked Livingstone earlier as a “bigot” when the ex-Mayor had pointed out that he thought the shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones might “need psychiatric help”. This is what Livingstone said, “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.” It is very much a Livingstone put-down. Livingstone suggested that his spat with Mann, however, went back to his failure to campaign for Mann in Oldham during the general election. Another typical swipe. But well done, Mann!

It all seems a bit personal, of course. When the two of them were on the radio, Livingstone said, “You’re on the radio and TV all the time, criticising what this party leadership is doing. All the time.” mm. It is an Edward Lear instance of the pot bashing the kettle.

And in response, Mann said this,

“You are a bully attacking Kevan Jones. Your language is appalling. You’re a bigot. You’ve failed to apologise … Even today, you’re failing to do so.” whereupon David Mellor butted in and added, “Can listeners kindly be reminded that these are two members of the Labour party who’ve been discussing their love for one another.”

However, Livingstone has a point. Whenever he knocks him down, Mr Mann keeps popping up like some sort of puppet- but the issues are so much bigger than a punch and judy booth.

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I think Mann looks alot like Neil Morrissey of “Men Behaving Badly” fame.

Mr Mann is also the MP who blew the whistle on abuse in Westminster, amid lurid tales of child strangulation in the 1980s. This, in turn, led to the hounding of Leon Brittan and Edward Heath. Unfortunate: stories have been leaking for years about the former PM but I think the idea that such an introverted man was involved in any groups is absurd, lurid and foundless. De Mortuis nil nisi bonum. Today, Mr Mann has announced that he is voting against his party for Brexit. I suppose that says rather more about Mr Corbyn’s lacklustre leadership than it says about Mr Mann’s ability to grab headlines.

The Edward Lear project “Following Lear”

On Friday I did an interview for local radio about the Lear project. This is the first time I have done anything for this beyond the few exhibitions. It has been, now, nearly 10 years in development so it is well-worth talking about and here are some sketches in preparation for Lear’s most famous poem that closes the documentary. More, undoubtedly, about this later on!

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Remembering Gallipoli is a local issue too

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Today is Anzac day and a few years’ ago I was making a film about the Gallipoli landings in 1915, so it is very moving to watch the various ceremonies in the cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsular and at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

lear copy GallipoliGallipoliHere is a picture of the town of Gallipoli as it is today and my copy of the drawing made by Edward Lear in 1848 of the same view. The town was a major stop-off point for British ships on the way to the Crimean war.

While the 1915 campaign is often thought to be an Australian and New Zealand tragedy, which it undoubtedly is, there was a huge contingent of Lancashire troops.

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There was also a Northampton Saints rugby player who lost his life in the Gallipoli campaign, His name was Blair Inskip Swannell and he was killed on the first day of the campaign. He…

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sojourn in Albania

I am not sure I have posted this, but rather remarkably there is an article in the Albanian Encyclopedia of Art about me and about what we are doing on the Edward lear Project. I think we are now approaching the 10th year of working on this and last year we were filming in Corfu, where Lear was very happy. I am not so sure he was ever truly content, but he made others so. Just check out the story where he reduces the young Bey of Durres to giggles without either understanding a common word. Maybe that is one way to get through life, isn’t it?

Last year at Easter it rained and the procession with the brass band disbanded at the last minute in a scene that was unutterably mediterranean…

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