Saturday, May 30, 2009

The wonders of London

I am temporarily back from London after a longer than planned stay, but I'm going back on Monday for a few more days. Daz's company is re-tiling a pool down there, so he's renting a very nice 3-bedroom flat for him and the other guys down in Kilburn, a few miles from the city centre, which I get to stay in for free - woohoo! Usually I can only afford to stay in the cheapest 'hotel' in London, a very grim place in Earls Court which became the inspiration for my 'Grey Heights Guesthouse' animation. It's unlikely that I'll be able to afford to spend so much time in London again, so I'm making the most of it whilst I can.

I travelled out to Woking on Thursday to meet up with director James Geard and talk about our collaboration, Walter Gloom. He had some fantastic sketches and ideas and has put together a great storyboard for me to work from. To see some of his drawings and follow his pre-production work, check out the Walter Gloom blog.

The rest of this post is mainly going to be me enthusing about London, no stop motion I'm afraid...

I love living in the North-West, but I have to admit that every time I go down to London I fall in love with the place a little more. I have no interest in the nightlife or shopping - I avoid both of these things like the plague, unless it's shopping for books or comics of course! The main things I love about London are the excellent art galleries and museums, the architecture and the public transport system (yup, I'm a real geek). London now comes a very close second to Vienna, Austria which is my favourite city in the world (for very similar reasons).

Visiting the British Museum is my version of a religious pilgrimage. My entire purpose in life is Art, and the British Museum is a cathedral to the entire history of human cultural expression throughout the world (the V&A is similar, only with more emphasis on the history of design rather than history in general, and mainly focusing on the last 1000 years or so). I spent two full days in the British Museum, and now I have finally, after 5 visits in 3 years, managed to see everything in the permanent displays (yes it really is that big).

My favourite bits of the British Museum are Mexico, the Asia section (China, India, Japan etc.), Africa and the Lewis Chessmen. I'm also a sucker for anything featuring ancient methods of writing. I could quite happily pitch a tent in the central court of the British Museum and live there permanently!

As for the V&A, my favourite bits are the Islamic Middle East and South Asia, among many others.
The other great thing about both museums is the amazing bookshops.

And then of course there is also the National Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The Wellcome Collection, The Saatchi Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, and many many other galleries and museums to be inspired by.

Along with my passion for looking at pretty much anything that's in a glass case, on a plinth or hanging on wall with a little information tag beside it, I also love the London Underground. There are several reasons for this. The tube map is a work of design genius and all those interconnected coloured lines and dots fuel my autistic side (I like trying to work out the most efficient route between two stations by time, distance, number of connections and which route is most aesthetically pleasing on the map... ). I also like the efficiency and convenience of it all (anyone reading this in London is shaking their head now). Even with the staff strikes, signal failures, people jumping under trains and security alerts, it is still much quicker and easier to get around than in the Bolton/Salford/Manchester area, where nothing interconnects properly, you have to wait ages between each bus/train and everything is run by different companies that require separate day tickets so it ends up costing a fortune.

Despite the wonders of London, there is no way I could survive living there. Apart from the fact that even renting a tiny bedsit costs more than twice as much as renting a good sized two bedroom house in Bolton, I'd probably die of over-stimulation (if such a thing is possible). London has the same effect on me as large quantities of sugar and brightly coloured cartoons have on small children (or the effect that the London Forbidden Planet megastore and Orbital Comics shop have on Daz). Most importantly though, the tap-water down there is horrible lime-scaley stuff that forms a skin on top of your tea and makes it taste funny, and I could never live in a city where you can't make a good cup of tea...

Anyway, enough of my London related ramblings, by next weekend I should have two new woolly monster puppets to post about. Whilst in London I've also been doing some drawings for a little comic/artist-book type thing I want to put together and print a short run of, but I'll post more about that if and when I eventually finish it, so I can try to sell you all a copy!


Edwound Wisent said...

(^ the theramin playing in walter's piece is what has me hooked.

the way the hands move.
can you emagine a little frail old woman.. walking alomng in her shawl..
arms akimbo..
and while walking her hands are actually playing "teddy bear's picknick" in theramine form.
but without the theramine there.
just a palsied looking hand motions.

like as she walks.
her emotions come through via little music juinggles.. like theme songs..
NOT in sound! just in theramine hand postures.

same could be done with a former pianist who can't elp but play mime piano everywhere he goes..
like air guitar.

but the theramine. isss. very.. subtle.

Woolly Monster said...

Air theramin!
Curiously enough when I get anxious (which is a large amount of the time) I appear to be awkwardly and ineptly playing an invisible keytar with one hand...
I like the idea that it's my silent theme music!

jriggity said...

Cool beans ....I wana visit London too...

awesome to get the museum recomendation.


amoebaboy said...

i stayed in the backpackers hostel in earls court a few weeks ago, is that the grim heights hotel? i know the guy who runs it hes a mate of mine, and dont worry he would be thrilled if it was

Woolly Monster said...

That depends on whether you are referring to the Aquarius Hotel? It's technically not a hostel (you get a private room and ensuite for the same price as a hostel bed) and it was the original inspiration for 'Grey Heights Guesthouse', even down to the mystery brown stains on the walls...