Thursday 15 September 2011

Masks, Bingo and eleven Doctors

I went into London today for one of my usual 'cram as much great stuff into a day out' type days and crammed as much great stuff into the day out as I could. I began with morning tea with my good chum Dave Gavin who happened to be in London. He's a movie model maker and is one of those people responsible for the kind of non CGI monsters that Harry Potter likes to shout nonsense words at. His claim to fame is taht he made those crotch-hugging orange rubber braces that Mila Jovovich wears so flatteringly in The Fifth Element. Of course he still has them ...

From there it was on to the Cartoon Museum to meet another chum, Terry Bergin, and to have a mooch around the Doctor Who in Comics exhibition. Some lovely stuff there that really took me back. There's early art from Hartnell era 1960's annuals right up to date with Roger Langridge's excellent take on Matt Smith and everything in between. For me, the highlight was some original Frank Bellamy art from the Pertwee-era Radio Times and some original paperback covers by Andrew Skilleter and Chris Achilleos. Great to see art from the old TV Action and Countdown comics too. Beautiful work. Do go and see - it's on until the 30th October and there are some excellent related events on.

From there it was on to Tate Modern to see the Miro exhibition ... which finished on Sunday. Always best to check beforehand you know. Still, Terry and I took tea on the members' terrace overlooking a very sunny river Thames and got bullied by feral London street pigeons instead.

Next stop was the East End and a short walk from Liverpool Street up the deliciously named Norton Folgate brought me to the studio of the enigmatic Mr Bingo. We've been mates for a while now and I love his funny, sharp illustrations. He's quite rightly at the top of his game right now and it was great to see his studio at last - I've been meaning to visit for ages - and shoot the breeze. However, our time was cut short by the fact he had to go partying with Kate Moss. No. Really. Hmmf. I've been stood up for worse I guess.

Final stop of the day, and just a stone's throw from Bingo's studio, was the Nobrow Press gallery for the private view of Ben Newman's new show Masks which opens tomorrow.

I've loved Ben's stuff for some time and his Bento Bestiary book is a joy. Nobrow produce some really excellent stuff and among my recent purchases have been McBess's limited edition Big Mother A3 book and John Sibbick's beautiful and informative Flesh and Bone. You can see the whole range here. Great to see a small press outfit doing so well. The quality is superb.

This exhibition features Ben's painted masks plus some very real 3D masks constructed from wood with his annoying talented dad, Colin. There were also some brilliantly bizarre plush figures on display based on Ben's illustrations and made by the inimitable Louise Evans, better known to the world as Feltmistress. They were wonderful! Here are two of Ben's illustrations. Compare the monster with Louise's plushie below. Beautiful work. All of these photos get bigger if you click on them, by the way.

Ben (above) cuddling up to a plush chum called Tippy, courtesy of the elusive Feltmistress (below).

Jonathan Edwards and Woodrow Phoenix. Two very very fine illustrators and damnably nice chaps too.

If you're in London, do pop along and support the exhibition. It's also worth it for the complete Nobrow catalogue too. there are some truly excellent books and prints on sale.

Another splendid day spent in the company of people who delight and inspire. I wish I could do this every day.

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