Hansel & Gretel Toy Theatre

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My work on the forthcoming Pollock’s Toy Theatre of Hansel & Gretel is all but done. Yesterday I packed the nine boards of original artwork in a stout card box and dispatched them via Parcelforce to Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden. When scanned, printed and packaged as an assembly kit, this third in the series of Pollock’s ‘artist designed’ model theatres will comprise of six A4 cards in a pretty, embossed Pollock’s folder, complete with detailed construction notes.

There’s a proscenium arch and everything needed to build the stage, two ‘house-curtains’ (one for the beginning and another for the curtain-call), backdrops and cut-cloths for the six scenes that make up the play I’ve written to go with the theatre, and twelve characters to bring the story to life. Standing at some ten inches high when constructed, while not a miniature it certainly qualifies as small, though I hope the attention to detail in it will make this toy theatre feel big in spirit.

Below: backdrop for Inside the Witch’s House

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It’s been a tremendous honour to be chosen for the project. The theatre curtain of the model bears Benjamin Pollock’s name, a responsibility that has made me occasionally blanch at the thought of the weight of his reputation on my shoulders. At every stage of the journey – it’s been over eighteen months since I received the commission to create the Hansel & Gretel theatre – I’ve worked to make this contemporary contribution to the Pollock’s aesthetic one that I would be happy to lay before him. I feel as though I’ve achieved this entirely personal goal, though ultimately that will be for others to judge.

Hansel & Gretel

coming soon to

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop

Covent Garden

16 thoughts on “Hansel & Gretel Toy Theatre

  1. Clive, although I’ve not been to Pollack’s ever I have seen it on line and think it is magic!
    I am happy to read you will have a paper theatre on offer with them–this is VERY EXCITING!
    BRAVO!
    I look forward to seeing it in totality!
    Cosima

  2. Haven’t looked for a while and when I did my heart did a skip, (or was it a step ball change?) whatever! I’m SO happy for you, as well as those who will have such a time with your work but mostly I’m just ‘chuffed to bits,’ ‘pleased as punch’ and’over the moon.’ Bravo!
    Hugs
    B xxx

  3. Ooh how wonderful, it will look fantastic!

    I went to the toy shop once on a trip from school about ten years ago. Unfortunately we had a very short amount of time to see everything so I couldn’t linger and take it all in, I must visit again one day!

    • Liz, Hansel & Gretel seem to have barged their way into my creativity and there’s no escaping them. There have been collages, the beginnings of a couple of alphabet primers (one in English and another in German), a set of painted enamelware plates, the illustrated (and quite mischievous) re-telling I made for Random Spectacular 2, and coming shortly, the picture-book and the Pollock’s toy theatre. With each, the storytelling, characters and realisations have changed. I love the way stories get a hold of me.

      I’m with Angela Carter in the matter of narrative. For her it was the single most significant fact of life and creativity. It is for me, too.

  4. Clive, it’s exciting to see that the curtain is about to go up on your toy theatre for Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. When you were at a low ebb last year, I sent you this magical – and poignant – film made in the 1920s by the Gaumont Film Company, which I want to share here in much happier times for you. It shows Benjamin Pollock and his daughter at work in their Hoxton shop in London’s East End. It’s wonderful that a tradition, which was feared lost nearly 100 years ago, still continues today in the hands of toy theatre lovers like yourself. Congratulations on making a dream come true!!

    • I loved this little film the moment I saw it. My own Pollock’s toy theatre, the one I use for the many proscenium arches and scenes you see illustrated here at the Artlog, is the mirror of the one Benjamin Pollock uses in the film. It unfolds in exactly the same way. I tie the arches to the frame with tapes, as he does. And my first experiences of the old toy shop and the museum above it, were just as shown here, with the play sheets ranged along the walls. Bliss.

      Thank you for sending it again. This post at this time is just the right place.

  5. Dear Clive, I have been following your posts avidly and even when I don’t offer up a comment or even a “like” I am truly engaged with your work. I share your enthusiasms for toy theatre and I am deliriously smitten with your rendering “style” – your hand and eye. Smitten and envious. Bravissimo on your Hansel & Gretel. I will order one soon as it becomes available. With regards and best wishes, Charles

    • Charles, I’ve just spent a wonderful forty minutes at your incredibly elegant website. Masses of treasures to be appreciated there. I loved everything: dioramas, collages, the magnificent archive of stage productions you’ve designed. I’m hugely pleased to accept your compliments for this project, but looking at your achievements, I bend my knee and doff my cap. You, sir, are the Maestro!

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