Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Friends and Relations

African Cousins
I kind of forgot about these carvings that I had made in Malawi a couple or three years ago. What do you think? I'd actually really like to know, as I'm conducting some market research on behalf of my Malawian friend, who negotiated with the carvers and showed them Twelvemo. Please share if you like these!


Common Ancestors and Old Friends
This character below is one of the primary influences for the Twelvemo figures. This is an object in the wonderful Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich (UK). 

I absolutely loved this figure when I was a child visiting Strangers Hall, but the strange thing is that I then forgot ALL about it. I had completely and utterly forgotten about it and was several years into the Twelvemo Project when I accompanied my daughter's primary school class on a visit one day and there it was! It was so astonishing to see this object that had been in the back of my mind all along, and to recognize it immediately like an old friend. 

So some time later (a couple of years maybe, I don't like to rush things) I got in touch with Norfolk Museums Service who took this out of storage (it is number NWHCM : 1969.495 in their catalogue) along with a couple of other strange, carved and articulated figures and allowed me to spend a couple of hours handling and taking photos in a quiet back room. What service! They weren't able to tell me much about the figures though, or how old they were, so if anyone can enlighten me I'd be delighted! I think they were artists' lay figures, for drawing from, but I'm not entirely sure. I'm fairly sure they were not playthings or dolls...

Doesn't she make Twelvemo look small? I can't help wondering whether I would have constructed Twelvemo differently if I had remembered this figure at the start of the process. She might have been larger for starters! I think there may have been quite a lot of  other differences too, so I'm glad I didn't go and research it earlier. It makes Twelvemo more original and more all mine too! 

This one was majestic really, in its size and weight. The suggestion of muscle mass carved into the wood is amazing. The joints are minimal but with a great range of movement, made of brass. I think they can all be tightened individually, if I remember rightly.

This one was less elegant but has pretty clever jointing and a rather cherubic face. Perhaps I should show these to the Malawian craftsmen too.  Their carving skills are pretty amazing but there is a little room for improvement with the jointing!
Had an email from the Chinese factory today (because I sent one inquiring).  Work is going well. He's expecting that I will take delivery at the end of July. That's a whole month! And two weeks longer than I was hoping/expecting. Ah well... he'd said 45 days from receipt of payments and I think I was counting all the weekends too. I suppose that's fair enough, but oh! I'm so impatient!
Must get on! I have done nothing else this evening yet apart from this (including taking some of the pictures!) and make supper. Oh, and chat to a friend on the phone. Sounding quite productive really but I have illustrations to make. Paid work! Should press on with that really. They will be images similar to the ones I did for More and Better Food a book for use in Sub-Saharan Africa, published by Strategies for Hope
There, that's neatly linked back up with the African theme at the start of this post! And I really HAVE to go!


  1. Oh Wow, I Love these comparison inspiration pics sooo Much!!!

  2. They are pretty wonderful pieces of work, aren't they? I was SO impressed by Norfolk Museums Service, that they did this for me free of charge! It's not unusual either, it's just part of the service they offer.

  3. This is really fascinating, to see where inspiration comes from and how it lurks in the background, so we're not actually consciously aware of it. That was lovely of the Museum to let you have real contact with the figures. Lucky girl!