Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Patch's Place

In 1999 I got asked by Chris Ragg to help him make a set for his children's puppet TV show Patch's Place.

Having never designed or worked on a film set, I visited the Court Theatre Workshop and asked if I could do a few days work experience to get an idea where to start. Brian was the Workshop Manager at the time and he said yes with a big grin. After a week of helping I was offered a part time job as the Engineer doing all the metal bits. But that's another story...

So with a bit more confidence under my belt, I made a small model of the house in Patch's Place and showed it to Chris. Chris liked the design, so I went ahead and made it in my home workshop out of bits of customwood, old sacking, paint and plaster. It was made to come apart easily for shifting and putting in storage when not filming.

Chris had done these wonderfuly expressive drawings of creature puppets for the series. He made the creatures himself, found friends and family to write the script and help crew. I got roped in to be on 3rd camera.

It was a marvelous effort. Later on Chris went to Australia with a great show reel to break into the industry.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anthony Jarrett was immortalised

In 1987 I found this fantastic newspaper picture of Anthony Jarrett winning a race. He has this amazing expression on his face. So I made this small 1/4 life scale marquette one afternoon. It was done in clay and was drying out rapidly. Got some photos before it dried out. It's one I would love to have another go at sometime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's the commons

Wow - I got to hear this song today in Cathedral Square. It was written and sung by David Rovics who is currently touring New Zealand. He said it perfectly.

The Commons, a song by David Rovics
First you told us only through you could we know God
And if we dared to question, then He wouldn't spare the rod
For you we worked the soil, for you we dug the moors
For you we shed our blood and fought so many pointless wars
And now you build your fences and you say there's nothing we can do
You say the world around us belongs fairly to the few
But about six billion people, no doubt will agree
This world is our home, not your property

It's the commons, our right of birth
And you who would enclose the land all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain

With our sweat we built the railroads, built cities on these shores
But because you own the money, you say that it's all yours
We laid the phone lines and the pipelines and then right before our eyes
You say the things our taxes paid for you now will privatize
Privatize the hospitals, privatize the schools
Privatize the prisons for all those who break your rules
And preparing for the day, when all the wells run dry
You say you own the very rain that falls down from the sky

But it's the commons, our right of birth
And you who'd own the water all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain

You claim to own the harvest with your terminator seeds
You claim to own the genomes of every animal that breeds
You claim to own our culture and the music that we play
And with each song that we download to your coffers we must pay
You would even own my name and you say it's for the best
Maybe you'll let us on your radio if our songs can pass your test
You own country, you own western, you say you've given us a choice
You may own the airwaves but you'll never own my voice

It's the commons, our right of birth
And you who'd own the music all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just magic - working on Globe for Magiciens de la Terre

From late 1987 I had the wonderful opportunity to work for Neil Dawson, the Christchurch based sculptor who exhibits around the world.

I was employed as a sculptors assistant ...I got to be his hands and it was just fantastic. Every morning when I came in to start work, there would be a pile of A4 sizes drawings he had done the night before - any of which could have become a work of art. Occasionally I got given a drawing and told to go off and make it - or several identical copies. I then realised what was meant by Michelangelo being a factory.

Neil was a really nice chap to work for, very talented and he taught me a lot by personal example.

From memory, about mid 1988, work started on Globe, which was to be hung above the plaza outside the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris as part of the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre.

First a small Marquette was made out of beaten metal mesh and presented with location photos.

Bruce Edgar who was Neil's technical wiz found a way to make this impossible object possible with investigations and trials of materials. Richard Reddaway made a 60cm sphere for a working drawing.

I got to spend 2 weeks at the University of Canterbury Geography Department watching all of the satellite imagery available. I remember being mesmerised by time lapse movies lasting months of swirling patterns of cloud moving across the planet. There were also books with photos taken by astronauts. It was just stunning!

I said in an interview at the time "We originally started off projecting photos onto the surface of the sphere and then accurately trying to trace them on. Every little dot and speck, and then going through and editing that. But it was too mechanical, so now it is being done in quite a sort of painterly way - I just try to put in the general sweeps and swirls and then put lots of resolution in. I noticed that all the scientists have got books and books and books on dissecting the weather, but they have no beautiful pictures of what it actually looked like. Its really very interpretive - a funny situation really - sort of like a ghost painter. I'm painting the world as I see it and Neil comes along and edits it. It's his choice."

The model was then photographed and projected up onto a series of hexagon plates made of a foam fiberglass composite that would eventually be bolted together to make a 4.5 meter hollow sphere suspended 25 meters above the Pompidou Plaza.

I traced photos, then cut out them out with a router. I can still remember the fiberglass dust and the breathing gear.

I think 6 people were involved in making Globe. It was carefully assembled and hung from the rafters in Neil's studio. Neil spray painted it - he did an amazing job - just perfect.

Then Neil and Bruce went to Paris to put it up.

The whole thing was a great experience. After the exhibition was over it went to a gallery in New Plymouth and then outside a gallery somewhere in Australia where it was eventually destroyed in a storm.

Looking back, Neil showed incredible guts tackling this project. Everyone worked very hard and it was at the limit of technology. It was an honour to be part of it.