Last month I visited friends in the Hague for a few days, flying to Rotterdam first from City Airport in London. What courteous staff at Rotterdam, compared to those at City Airport! Staying with my friends was a delight, and I managed to visit a new English children’s bookshop in nearby Wassenaar. Chatted with its enthusiastic owner, about workshops amongst other things.
My friends kindly drove me to the nearby Space Expo at ESTEC, part of the European Space Agency site, and I was in heaven. There were not only inspirational comics about space, but a recording of a singing comet, a piece of moon rock and a facsimile of part of the Russian Zvezda ISS capsule, complete with religious icon – combining faith in the spiritual and scientific.
My visit to the Hague ended with a brisk walk through woodland to the beach at Scheveningen. It was raining, but there was birdsong, and an elegant tree by the beach, all ready for Christmas …
Whilst visiting a friend in Clerkenwell, east London recently, I met Jolly Jack the clown who very kindly showed me his cuttings book and told me a bit about his career. He was resting up as he’d recently tripped over the edge of a non-slip mat at a circus and broken his leg. This chance meeting reminded me of a visit I’d once made to an annual Grimaldi memorial service held at All Saints Church, Haggerston, also in east London, where I photographed some of the clowns’ amazing footwear.
Actually I find clowns in their make-up rather unnerving, but love the shoes, including some in one of my earliest children’s books, Robotina Finds Out published by Faber & Faber.Jolly Jack’s shoes weren’t enormous, but they did have extraordinary flashing lights.
Some new co-editions of the first Draw It! book arrived yesterday evening – a surprise delivery. The last co-edition was for Taiwan. Great to see my books in all sorts of different languages. As well as in English of course! Donated some copies to the Swedish Church in London, and have been asked to give a talk and have an exhibition of my work there in autumn 2019.
Great to join other artists and take part in another Guardian event – possibly my fourteenth! I ran an all day drop-in workshop encouraging families to fold paper and invent some cheeky forfeits for others to act out. As usual, children were hugely inventive, and it got pretty lively – see lovely comments from participants here. No photos of me when I was hopping like a rabbit thank goodness – one of the children’s forfeits …
Another of my explore and draw events at Swedenborg House produced fine results from young visitors again. First of all we did some warm-up drawing exercises, including drawing different facial expressions on a young Swedenborg – thanks to some brave volunteers who pulled faces for us!
Afterwards we got into conversation – I wanted to know where she got the skirt from! We chatted and later I offered her a choice of one of my new business cards, each featuring a character from The Hand Book, which I’d had made by Moo cards.
D chose a card at random (without seeing it) and by chance picked the young fossil hunter image, inspired by early 19th century fossil hunter extraordinaire Mary Anning – I wrote about her again recently. Imagine my surprise when I learned that D’s mother was a descendant of the Dorset Anning family …
The workshop took place in a room with a Pollocks Toy Theatre performance – not at the same time – featuring a flying saucer. Participants of all ages customised and cut out folding hands with intriguing results, including a card designed by a scientist, and some valiant colouring in by a very small person.
A brief visit to Hastings, where I breathed sea air and called in at the Jerwood, and enjoyed walking briskly (I didn’t have a horse) past Mark Wallinger’s reference to Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge.