Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Robbin’ a bank

Season’s greetings from Peggy - and from the rest of us!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Play in the Infants’ School

There is no Raleigh School on Ocean Street anymore, and no buildings from the time survive there.

Published in 1938, ER Boyce’s book tells of how as head teacher from 1933 she led an experiment in play-centred learning in the Infants’ School, with approximately three hundred children on the roll, aged between three and seven-and-a-half. From the preface:
In the heart of the East End of London, you will find an odd tangle of courts and alley-ways connecting long, narrow streets of shabby cottages, each housing several families. The monotony is broken by public houses and dingy shops which deal in very small quantities of groceries, cheap sweets or fish and chips. On fine evenings, these streets are scenes of lively social life. The children play and the parents gossip. In the hot weather, the babies crawl naked on the pavements. There are brawls and parties during the week-end: sometimes a piano is dragged into the street so that jollity may be enjoyed by all. The noise is often deafening; iron hoops and wireless mingle with shrill calls and whistles, the crying of babies and the laughter and shouts of women.
The children who live in this particular district have only one other playground, a small disused burial-ground, planted with trees and consisting mainly of concrete paths. They frequent a neighbouring street-market which, on Saturday evenings is picturesque in the light of flares. Many of them go regularly to the Penny Pictures; a cinema performance of cowboy and crook films. Each year there is a visit to the hop-fields. A certain number of them get an outing to Southend, many more dream of going and hear so much of it from others, that they invent stories of their own adventures at the sea.
The ordinary events of a child’s life are unknown. Birthdays are rarely kept, new toys are unusual, stockings at Christmas are seldom hung up and there is no annual holiday.
Their physical condition is extremely poor; there are three or four bonnie children in each class of forty, and these are not always fully grown. They suffer from rickets, impetigo, adenoids, rheumatism, colds, and various forms of malnutrition. The cases of underfeeding are comparatively small, but all of them live on a diet of cheap sweets and cakes, bread and margarine, fish and chips, and tinned food. The facilities for cooking are poor and the mothers are ignorant of good, simple feeding, and many of them are the wage-earners of the family and the small child is fed by the elder sister. The majority of the parents, especially the younger ones, make continual efforts to keep the children clean and tidy and have some conception of their duty to them. In spite of this, sores and cuts are always septic, hair is often verminous and many small bodies are flea bitten.

Nearby Duckett Street in 1939, found here. Copyright © Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

While aspects of the Raleigh School project are familiar to me from my children’s experience in London nursery schools, ER Boyce seems to have gone much farther than is usual today in her effort to work for a child-centred school where children experienced as much liberty as possible, and where academic learning developed out of the children’s own interests and curiosity.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

I dream of love

From the secret lead-lined vault of bootleg demo reel to reels and wax cylinders, here is John Dog singing one of the hits of tomorrowyear, I dream of love.

More John Dog songs at raymondbutler.bandcamp.com, and on this YouTube playlist.

The Festival of Britain images are from the short film Brief City, 1952, available at archive.org.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ice palaces and paper castles

The ice palace above is a digital matte painting that I recently rendered for director Charlie Paul at Itch Film. It was used in a winter wonderland themed ad for Iceland Foods. I also sketched designs for the set, below, and painted other bits and pieces for digital compositing.

Before painting the ice palace there was a tremendous amount of sketching to narrow down design options. You’ll find just some of those sketches below the fold. The palace can be seen in the finished ad here - but blink and you’ll miss it!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Fighting Chaos with Madness!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Beech Croft: A Road Trip, a true tale of DIY traffic calming in Oxford. You can read more about the road witches of Beech Croft Road at roadwitch.org.uk.

At the heart of this story is my friend Ted Dewan, illustrator, children’s writer, musician, whale dissector, head shrinker, and loving father to a rabbit, when he’s not busy witch wrestling.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Paper plumage

There was an outbreak of collage in the house last month. Here’s one of the results, a bird by Peggy.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Breaking the ice

My friend Kjetil Berge is departing on an expedition to the Arctic on Saturday. Travelling overland by ice cream van, he will go via Berlin and St Petersburg to Murmansk, Russia, and then to Kirkenes, Norway. Ice creams will be offered in exchange for talk about the weather, songs and stories.

Londoners can wave him farewell (and get an ice cream for a song) at Gillett Square this Saturday, between 4 and 6 pm. Read more about the journey here, and see Kjetil’s other doings here.

The top image is from the 2006 hardback edition of Rasmus Klump På Nordpolen by Carla and Vilhelm Hansen. Rasmus Klump is copyright Egmont Serieforlaget.