We’re taking a quick detour this week and sort of away from Ivor Wood (I know!).It took me a while to make it down to the Museum of Childhood in London, a week before the exhibition closed in fact, but I did make it to the Small Films presents Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. As I’m sure you are too I am a big fan of all things animation and want to learn more about British animation in particular. Often looking at others work from certain time periods can help to inform you what styles, techniques and fashions were present and how these influenced the industry of the day.
Image taken from http://www.simonleachdesign.com/
Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. was a small exhibition showcasing some of the incredible work that Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin did at Small Films. The work on show ranged from the beautifully craftef Bagpuss and Clangers puppets to the exquisite illustrations for Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. For me as a 2D animator it was great to see all the original illustrations for the latter shows. Peter Firmin, who started life as an illustrator, showed superb draftsmanship and creativity and his imagination looked effortless. All carefully inked and water-coloured the depth he created with so few detailed lines was a wonder. Much like viewing Ivor’s work in reality the vivid colours that were used really jump out at you. It seems somewhat a shame that televisions’s then weren’t quite the standard they are today. We seem to lose a whole other level to what these pioneers were trying to communicate.
Much like Ivor Wood, Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin were pioneering in their work and it was a boom time in the 1960s for stop-motion animation and one that these 3 really helped to shape. I firmly believe that if this mixture and variety of stop-motion animation hadn’t been going on in parallel then we wouldn’t have this great body of work to look back on and indeed grow up with. It must have been an inspiring time to be in the industry and with big broadcasters taking notice there was nothing these guys couldn’t achieve.
Overall the exhibition,Clangers, Bagpuss & Co was interesting but lacked depth and seemed quite quickly slung together. The information that was on offer next to each artwork seem more directed at the general public rather than a fan of animation and puppets. This obviously made it accessible so I’m not arguing with that. The puppets as fellow Ivor Wood researcher, Joseph Wallace, also mentioned were dimly lit and not at head height which meant a lot of bending down and peering trying to catch all the details. All in all it’s brilliant to have such a exhibition doing the rounds and the creators getting the love and dedication that they so rightly deserve. It’s about time!
Perhaps it’s time Ivor Wood had the same treatment. What you reckon?
*I lost all my photos on my camera so I hope these kind folks don’t mind me sharing some of theirs