Monday, September 08, 2008

All's Well That Ends Well.

My first ever paid job after my degree was as a propsmaker for the Royal Shakespeare Company, where I moved to Stratford briefly, stitching, gluing and mackling-together giant books, Capulet party invites and man-sized snakesuits for a season's productions. I grew up with my tongue out over pages in 'The Bloody Book ' - a weighty tome of Shakey's stories adapted for children and illustrated in full blood-soaked colour by Victor Ambrus, installing a lifelong love of Ophelia (whose pose I copied in the bath), Puck, Ariel, and the Witches whose physiognomies I then turned into 3D masks at college, as part of a new campaign for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Wizz forward to 2006, and actually I did do a campaign for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, through Palmer Hargreaves Wallis Tomlinson in Leamington. I did tons of illustrations, a map of Stratford, Tamworth pigs, sheep, shovels, ink blots and lots and lots of lettering, to be used on leaflets advertising each of the Trust's 5 properties. You can get a feel for it here.

Whoosh through another couple of years, and I've just come back from Stratford, spending a rain-sodden weekend with siblings in a Holiday Inn next to the alarmingly swollen Avon. As we wandered towards the Birthplace, siblings and I saw a sign with a familiar feel. Hey, you drawed that! shrieks sister. A sign? Wasn't in the usage, but hey, it looks smart - like what they've done with the herbs. Let's go inside. Oh, it's on a guide book too? OK...and look! A bookmark with my work on? A postcard set? Big posters in the Tourist Office!

As we walked around Stratford you couldn't avoid stumbling across some scribble or other by Inkymole, writ large and dangling overhead. The bus tour revealed more and more - I'm sure I spotted my Tamworth pig blown up into a poster somewhere around Anne Hathaway's cottage.

This is extremely pleasing to see (the signs on every house look lovely), and a gentle ambition fulfilled. Watching American tourists pose for family photos underneath signs brought a glow to my cheeks. I wasn't paid for quite such a vast spread of applications of the work - let's say it's more than a little beyond the scope of the original licence - but the Trust are benefitting from every new body through the door and every bookmark sold, and if my pen has helped another oak beam stay put, or added another few years to the life of a precious artefact, I'm happy. Now I am off to lie dead in the bath with pond weed around me.

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