World Book Day Cabinet

I celebrated World Book Day with the children of Annemount School in Hampstead Garden Suburb. A few of the children dressed up as characters from the Big Match and one boy, Rafael, completed his costume with a ‘book cabinet’ for guessing the book. The box opened to reveal mini pictures of all of my books.

I couldn’t believe the work that Rafael and his family put into this – two days I’m told. He wanted to give the box to me to take away at the end of the day (with his Mum’s permission, of course) – it now takes pride of place on my studio wall.

Britannia Village Primary

I was back at Britannia Village Primary School last Monday for Day 2 of our paper (cardboard) engineering project. As Year 6 set off for France with their giant pop-up constructions, Year 5s (3 classes) stepped up to the plate to start work on a pop-up reinterpretation of Alice in Wonderland set in London.

Britannia Village Primary sml

I was impressed by the way they took inspiration from Boxpark in Shoreditch, the surrounding streets and graffiti they photographed. I gave them guidance with the construction of the main framework and worked with a small team to get it in place and glued, while the rest of the children got to work on the other smaller components. They were given broad instructions for the painting of the structures but apart than that they were completely free to bring their own ideas to the final surface decoration.

Also very gratifying to see how all the teachers had used what they learnt in the initial inset session to help their pupils create small-scale pop-up pieces before my arrival.

The Book of Light Poems

book of light poems 18I like the idea of a book without text which then becomes complete with the addition of spoken words. I’ve just finished constructing The book of Light Poems which will be used by Joseph Coelho in The PoetryJoe Show, soon to start touring.

As we developed the project, it became clear that we needed a ‘book’ to contain the bits which made the visual part of the show work and that it required a certain look to get across that special quality of Joe’s poems. There also had to be an some element to carry through the theme of light.

The show’s Autumn schedule is filling up fast with a few early shows, including this Sunday at the Warwick Arts Centre. To see all the dates so far, click here.

book of light poems 22book of light poems Abook of light poems Bbook of light poems Cbook of light poems D

Golden Cat

golden catgolden cat 1I was really thrilled to get another package from Prep 2 at Truro High School just before Christmas.
I had constructed a ‘magnifying’ box as a thank you for letting me see their wonderful project and they liked this enough to send me something in return (see below). I was very impressed by the range of skills and techniques they used to make their version of the Golden Cat from Detective Paws and by what a well-observed, collaborative piece of work it was – very gratifying.DSC_0095DSC_0098

Grahams war box

What better way to mark N4 Junior’s new life in Portsmouth than to recollect how he came by his first high-end computer in those pre-blog days.

‘You could try this,’ he said at the time, waving a copy of PC Gamer magazine in my face. ‘You’re good at art!’

It was a competition with a chance to win a big prize – all you had to do was design a DIY war kit, no bigger than a shoebox, for Graham, the games reviewer, to coincide with the release of Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway.

I don’t condone war in any shape or form, but there was a computer to be won, and we were out to win it. I got my shoebox and began. Spurred on by the support and encouragement of the rest of my family who said things like, ‘Shouldn’t you be working?’ and ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do?’ I soldiered on to the bitter end.


As an afterthought, I decided to include a photo of Grahams girlfriend in the box. This soon became a picture of his mum brought to life by combining Grahams photo, from the PC Gamer site, with a random photo of a granny from the web, using the magic of photoshop.

I have a feeling that it was this that clinched the deal.   JOHN

Box in a book

A press release arrived last month regarding Adam Neate’s latest exhibition.

Two years ago, to the date, I noticed a newspaper article about this artist’s then-intention to give away 1,000 hand screenprinted paintings by leaving them around the streets of London.

On the night of Friday 14 November 2008, 20 teams of distributors would begin distributing the individually-numbered, unique multiples at the edges of the capital, working their way towards the centre by daybreak. Mention was also made of ‘well-known and not-so-well known landmarks’.



Our son figured that someone on a push-bike hitting as many local and central landmarks as possible, at a certain time of day, might be in with a chance of coming across one of the prints.

 On this basis, I (note the use of the first person pronoun – singular) set out at 5:15 am on the Saturday morning to do a two and a half hour circular bike trip of the capital in search of some art. I did enjoy cycling across a deserted Millennium Bridge at 6:30 in the morning – think early episodes of The Avengers or Doctor Who – but, ultimately, returned to base empty-handed. Sad, I know, and something one should really keep nice and quiet about.

But then I thought, no! I’m not going to let my efforts go to waste! I decided if I didn’t get anything from Adam Neate, then Adam Neate would get something from me! And so a box was born…


and designed, made and dispatched to Adam at his gallery, the Elms Lesters Rooms.
And no more was thought about it.



Some time later, I discovered, to my amazement, that the box had been featured in Adam’s book about the event. Needless to say, I was thrilled and touched.

I also got to meet the man himself who kindly signed my copy of the book. Result!   JOHN

Cover and inside spread of Adam Neate - The London Show