toy town

It’s probably evident to everyone that the hilltop town of My Dream Farm is based on one of those German toy towns, very simple and made of wood, that have been the playthings of children since time immemorial. You can purchase them still… or their descendants… neatly bagged in mesh and redolent of package-stuffed stockings at Christmas. I have one myself somewhere but couldn’t for the life of me find it in order to model for the hill-top town in the painting, and so the one you see in it is partially remembered and partially re-imagined.

But while looking for the elusive toy, I dug out this rather spiffy version from the same tradition, though with the usual scattering of houses padded out with the more surprising contemporary elements of garages, factory and warehouse blocks, cars and even caravans. It was, as these things so often are, a gift that came at Christmas, packed in a neat canvas bag and given to me by Peter’s brother Martin, his wife Christine and their daughter Megan. Isn’t it splendid?

Photographed on the radiant blue windowsill of our newly decorated bedroom!

I love the patterns you can make with this type of toy.

Detail, photographed this time on a piece of red card.

And finally, a couple of images of the ‘Goose Girl’ toy based on the principle of extending tongs. Close the tongs and the geese flock around the girl. Open them and they race ahead of her. This was the inspiration for the goose girl in My Dream Farm, and the bee skep-like tree was the model for the apple trees in the orchard.

7 thoughts on “toy town

  1. Pingback: toy town from czech « Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

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  3. You make me want to go out and look for a wooden farm! There’s a company that might interest you called Toypost. (They can be found HERE.) It’s where I got my spiffy blue marbles, but they do all kinds of other wonderful old-fashioned things too. I also like your blue windowsill very much.

    I hope your goose girl doesn’t have to worry about Falada, the talking severed horse’s head in the Grimm story of the goosegirl! Brrr…

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, over at mine. I think in part the hornets posts are rather in reaction to the matter of stats and popularity; I felt like doing something not instantly attractive! I know Jason’s marvellous site at Xenogere, though I’ve not been for quite a while, I don’t know why not. You’ve prompted me to go back, so thanks again.

    • Well go get that farm Lucy! There’s nothing wrong with a little investment in something to improve the aesthetic of a windowsill. That toy goose girl with her flock has now moved permanently to the blue sill as she looked so lovely when I transferred her there from the studio for the purposes of the photograph. I’ve decided too, after a lot of soul searching, to make a version of the toy farm I so loved as a child. My wood-working skills are limited, and therefore I’m going to enlist the aid of a carpenter to construct the basic form to my design, and then I shall set about painting it. I’ve convinced myself this endeavour will be worthwhile because then I’ll have something that will be a useful studio aid. After all my studio is full of interesting artefacts, both found and purchased, that are there to stimulate the imagination and eye. I’ve learned to legitimise this magpie-ish habit by using the acquisitions in paintings, and have thus turned many whims to advantage. My pecking-hen toy turned into one of the best still-life paintings I’ve probably ever made (see HERE) and when Peter thought I’d gone completely insane by purchasing a stuffed barn owl, I used the beautiful creature to make the painting The Congregation of Birds. (See the bird HERE and a detail of the painting HERE.) Just tell yourself that your toy farm is going to improve your life, and that you need it! (-;

      Yes. Grimm can be grim, though always marvellous. I have two volumes of his stories decorated by the great Jiri Trnka… matchless illustrator and puppet-film maker… and the severed horse head is the subject of one of the images, though Trnka makes it rather poignantly beautiful.

      Thanks for the link to Toypost. GREAT site! I fear you’ve set me on a primrose path marching straight toward yet more objects of desire!

      Glad that you approve the blue bedroom. It’s the first living space to be finished in the massive and ongoing project that is the restoration of this rambling Georgian/Victorian house, and I love the room so much that I barely want to leave it. We have a reading table and chairs in there, bookshelves, a cosy armchair and dual aspect views over the grounds and the valley beyond. It catches the sun all day. I’m in seventh heaven.

      • The goose girl on the blue window sill just blew me away. It’s such a cool toy and you’ve photographed it wonderfully – the light and shadows on that beautiful blue. I like toys that have moving pieces. Sometime soon, I’ll post a weird little sculpture that I carved that moves when you turn a tiny crank handle.

        I’m just catching up on my reading this morning but have been enjoying your posts about the dream farm as they come in through my email. I particularly enjoyed what you did with the geese, with the stragglers sneaking along. I can just imagine how much a child would like to see those almost-concealed geese. It’s often what is not shown rather than what is shown that brings such excitement to a piece.

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