Friday, 3 July 2015

THE INDEPENDENCE OF ALICE

Tomorrow's the day...

In addition to celebrating American Independence, some of us will be remembering a highly independent young lady named Alice who had some curious experiences in a topsy-turvy realm called Wonderland...    

Along with Will Brooker and Franziska Kohlt from the Lewis Carroll Society (did I mention I'm its President?) I will be speaking at The Old Fire Station, 40 George St, Oxford, OX1 2AQ, in an event entitled Pictures and Conversations.

My talk, 'Alice in Cartoonland', will tell something of the fascinating story of 150 years of cartoons and caricatures inspired by the denizens of Wonderland and Looking-Glass World.

It's all part of Oxford's 'Alice's Day 2015', marking the sesquicentennial of the first publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

In addition, it is something along the lines of a 'teaser trailer' for the forthcoming exhibition – also entitled 'Alice in Cartoonland', which I am curating for The Cartoon Museum in London and which opens on 15 July.

The cartoons – in both the talk and the exhibition – begin in the pages of Punch magazine in 1899 with John Tenniel spoofing one his own iconic  illustrations to Carroll's text, but with the minor change of having Conservative politician, Arthur Balfour standing in for Alice...


...and, in doing so, he established what would become a century-and-a-half long tradition of using Wonderland as a means of making fun of Prime Ministers...



...and Presidents...



...as well as jokes and gags featuring White Rabbits –– here from the pens of Messrs Searle and ffolkes...





...and the occasional unexpected Mad Tea-Party...



So, maybe see you in Oxford on Alice's Day... 

And, if you can't make it there, then why not drop by the Cartoon Museum in a couple of weeks' time...



Saturday, 27 June 2015

WONDERING ABOUT WONDERLAND


On 4 July, I will be taking part in 'Alice's Day', Oxford's annual event held in celebration of that day in 1862 when the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) took the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church on a river picnic during the course of which he told the girls the story of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. 'Alice's Day 2015' will focus on the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the book that was destined to bring fame to Alice and her storyteller...

The Lewis Carroll Society is presenting a trio of talks at The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ. Will Brooker will be speaking on ‘Alice and Popular Culture’, while Franziska Kohlt is presenting a talk entitled ‘The use of a book with pictures and conversations: Victorian Children’s Books and their Illustrations’. My own talk, ‘Alice in Cartoonland', celebrates a century-and-a-half of cartoonist's interpretations of Alice and her world.

The event is free and begins at 10:30 am

Thursday, 25 June 2015

HORROR IN THE WAX MUSEUM

The ultimate Disney collectable ––– DISNEY!

Some people are happy with a stuffed toy of Mickey Mouse, but if you crave something more memorable – something that is totally, utterly and ultimately DISNEY – then this, surely, is it! 


Pop along to the upcoming Hollywood Extravaganza Famous Movie Props and Costumes auction on 27 June, at Premiere Props, 128 Sierra Street, El Segundo, California, USA, you have the opportunity to bid on the chance to have a legendary movie-maker living in your home!

Here's what the catalogue says about this unusual auction item...

Description: WALT DISNEY WAX FIGURE BY KATHERINE STUBERGH
This one-of-a-kind life-size piece was made by famed wax figure artiste Madame Katherine Stubergh, likely in the 1950s. Stubergh was a celebrity in her own right and it was considered a huge honor to be immortalized in wax by her.
This figure, which stands 5'9" (exactly Disney's height), was sculpted by Stubergh herself using an actual life mask cast from Disney's face. (Fans have been desperately searching for a life mask of Disney and now at last it has been found.) After the mold was pulled from his face, Stubergh used all her skills to recreate the studio mogul in exacting detail.
Once the sculptures were finished and approved, Mr. Disney sat live with the artist in Stubergh's Studio as she meticulously painted the face and hands to exactly match Disney's skin tones, then hand-punched the exact shades of human hair one at a time into the wax head to complete the sculpture. 

Estimated Price: $20,000 - $40,000

And everyone always used to say Disney was frozen! Ha!

Prospective buyers click here

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

KALYMNIAN MEMORIES

Here, in addition to the photos previously published on this blog, are a few more pictorial memories of our recent stay on Kalymnos (and, specifically, in Emborios) taken (mostly) by David Weeks and (by kind permission) Sheila Shrigley, with the odd one or two by yours truly.

So, now that's sorted, back to reality...








 
 





 
 



 





Saturday, 20 June 2015

MAGICAL MOVIE MOMENTS

I've long been fascinated with magic in the movies and recently had an opportunity to write something on the subject for the June issue of The Magic Circular, the magazine of The Magic Circle. 

It feels like there's a book in there waiting to get written: I wonder if I can convince a publisher that I'm right?

Meanwhile, depending on the efficiency of your eyesight, here's the preliminary version (click on individual images to enlarge)...



Thursday, 18 June 2015

DISNEY DAMES


My 1998 BBC six-part radio series, Disney's Women, celebrating Walt Disney's leading ladies which I originally co-presented with Walt's daughter, the late Diane Disney Miller, is currently being re-broadcast as three one-hour programmes on BBC Radio 2.

Diane and I discuss all those famous Disney heroines – Snow White, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Ariel and Belle (oh, yes, and not forgetting Minnie Mouse!) – as well those wicked queens, cruel stepmothers and other menacing villainesses, such as the dalmatian-fur-obsessed Cruella de Vil! The series also explores the importance and influence of Walt's mother, Flora Disney, his wife, Lillian and their two daughters.

In addition to my co-presenter, many of those whom I interviewed for the series are, sadly, no longer with us  which gives it an added poignancy to the programmes as well as providing a remarkable archive of the women (and men!) who were responsible for the memorable female characters in Disney movies: among the role-call of the departed are artists and animators, Marc Davis, John Hench, Joe Grant, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, Disney executive, Roy E Disney and biographer Bob Thomas and my dear friend and most intuitive of Disney historians, Robin Allan.

The series – produced by my good pal and colleague, Malcolm Prince – examines the work of artists Mary Blair and Alice Davis as well as featuring the work of the singers and actresses who gave voice (and sometimes provided live-action inspiration) for the Disney ladies from Adriana Caselotti (Snow White), Ilene Woods (Cinderella) and Katherine Beaumont (Alice and Wendy) to Jodi Benson (Ariel) and Ming-Na Wen (Mulan). There are also contributions from Richard M Sherman, who with his late brother, Robert B Sherman, wrote the songbook of '60s childhood and, of course, Dame Julie Andrews who sang some of their most famous songs!

Disney's Women is being broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesday evenings at 10:00 pm and episodes are available afterwards on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

You will find current listening details here


A common comment that I receive when an old programme of mine such as this gets repeated runs along the lines of: 'More cash rolling into the Sibley coffers, courtesy of the BBC!' Oh, if only they knew: this series would not normally carry any repeat fee, but – on this occasion – only because I had to go into Broadcasting House to record updated the opening and closing announcements, I will be getting the princely sum of £200!

Ah, well, never mind, at least it's nice to know that people will get a chance to hear again what was once a regular radio voice...

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

CHAIRMAN'S REGRETS

There's a vacant chair on the beach today...


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

HOMEWARD BOUND

Time to go...

The condemned man ate a hearty breakfast...


Monday, 15 June 2015

DAY-TRIPPERS

Our last day and look what's just dropped anchor in Emborios bay....


The 'Mayan Queen' is a 92 meter motor yacht, built by Blohm & Voss and delivered to her owner in 2008. She is designed by Tim Heywood, while her interior is designed by Terence Disdale Designs Terence . She can accommodate 16 guests and 24 crew. The yacht has a cruise speed of 20 knots with a top speed of 22 knots.

She belongs to Alberto Bailleres, owner of one the largest mining companies in the world. Through his private holding firm Grupo Bal he holds the shares of Industries Penoles, the second largest mining company of Mexico, producing 25,000 kg of gold and 2,5 million kg of silver annually. Bailleres also owns a chain of department stores, 'El Palacio de Hierro', a high end retailer with brand names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Prada.

We're waiting to see if they're going to come ashore to join us for dinner...


Saturday, 13 June 2015

MORE LOCAL DELICACIES

Musmula fruit (known here by its local name 'zanara' and elsewhere in Europe as a 'medlar'): not especially attractive to look at but a fleshy, plum-like fruit with a large shiny stone (not dissimilar to that of a lychee) and with deliciously sweet and slightly fragrant taste...


Greek biscuits: they are drier than you expect, but are often hiding a soft, chocolate filling...


And ice-creams that you won't find on the seafront at Brighton or Blackpool...