Workshop glimpses

I bought my workshop shed when I was 17 and my brother and father built that in the back garden of the family home in Suffolk. Soon that workshop was doubled in size and remained intact for the next 38 years minus a few leaks here and there.

The workshop in the garden view from the warmth of the art room.

Wherever I was working in the world and especially in the past 20 years of only working in London theatre I travelled back to the family home as often as opportunity allowed to this simple workshop and garden to continue working in wood, metal, jesmomite fibreglass system and a lot of paint and glitter to create every single prop and scenic element for all of my productions.

The Suffolk workshop and garden in the sun and full of magic props and scenic elements. Such good times.

Another day of working outside, wood, paint, jesmonite and tea.

At the same time as I bought these tin workshop walls, my Mum brought me a radio. I listen to the radio, especially classical music as I work, I personally do not own a television or watch anything much on online platforms, but I do listen to the radio. The same radio has been played in that workshop throughout my lifetime and perhaps was only the fibreglass drips that was holding it together and the make shift metal arial between the radio and the roof of the now leaky metal workshop that kept that playing strong.

The below extensive selection of photos were taken for reference purposes over those 38 years during the creative process of each prop, illusion and scenic element from the magic shows. Most are in operation to this day. Many are still to be completed. It’s a never ending pleasurable pursuit … thank goodness.

An illusion from the early days of the woodland theme, which produced the magician within the frame created by the branches and roots in a flash. This photo is at the half way stage of being built.
After a day working outside. The tea drinking continued in the paint room. So many projects on the go at any one time. Things don’t change.
A good old tidy up would not go a miss here Richard.
The fly tower of the model theatre used in ‘The Magic Symphony’ show in progress.
This plywood board will eventually be the ‘Safety Curtain’ in the model theatre
Pelmet and stage revolve coming on nicely in the model theatre for ‘The Magic Symphony’ show
Back in the paint room and card stands and revolve scenery in progress. All props used within ‘The Magic Symphony’
The working table and stage area of ‘The Magic Symphony’ and a fresh new sheet of plywood for the use of.
The metal work on the model theatre set between theatre and working table added.
The model theatre is coming to life.
One of the many A frame billboards I have created. One per show title. This one eventually became the poster board used for my project called ‘Late Night Magic’ at the fabulous Jermyn Street Theatre in London’s West End.
Artwork in progress for a panel which forms a section of the ‘Circus Ring Entrance’ in a very old Circus themed Magic show entitled ‘The Magic Amphitheatre’
One section of the many pieces of fibreglass rock created and used in the set of ‘The Magic Cavern’. Just add paint.
More fibreglass. The prominent pieces are the table used in the ‘Cup and Ball’ sequence from ‘The Magic Cavern’ and an empty chest used for production items In the ‘Woodland of Wonders’ show from many many years ago.
The stand used to raise an illusion within the set. Metal structure with fibreglass moulded around the metal and eventually textured with more fibreglass on latex moulds of real tree bark and then painted.
The rough start to a tree stump, used in a levitation eventually. Crude wood, plywood, newspaper and wire meshing to create the desired rough shape. Then fibreglass added for sculptural shape.
Another illusion getting the artwork treatment. Each panel of each illusion or scenic element I look upon as a canvas for themed artwork. There is not much without in my repertoire.
More artwork on another working plywood panel from part of an illusion used within ‘The Side Shows of Wonder’ show. I also used this design for the poster of the same show title.
A huge windmill shaped production cabinet with the hinged sides in their fallen position.
A clearer view of the bottom half of the windmill production prop with the sides down
The sides lifted up and metal bolts latch the sides in place, creating the shape of the body of the windmill production prop. Add the rotating sails and the magic to produce the magician. Plus tonnes of red paint and glitter, eventually.
A feather pack and cape being fitted for the first time. A costume worn by the character of ‘Rita’ in the production of ‘Malcolm Marvelle – Master of Mystery and the lovely Rita’
The top of the Windmill Illusion and in the background, several rolls of gauze sitting comfortably and patiently awaiting the paintbrush treatment.
Our friend Darren in the workshop experimenting with ideas for illusion content within their cabaret act called ‘Soft Cabaret’ of which I had the most fun ever with Jon and Darren on this project. The laughter got in the way of building and painting.
More laugher …..
And now it’s our friend Jon’s turn to sit into the chair of doom and …. more laughter
Ok …. I can’t laugh no more, it hurts. For those lucky people that saw the first showcase of this new act presented by Jon and Darren called ‘Soft Cabaret’ and managed by Anne George of Trevor George Entertainments, you will know exactly how uncontrollably funny these wonderful people are. I am proud to have contributed in my own small way to this production.
An upright photo display for ‘The Magic Theatre’ in progress
A side panel which sits against the proscenium arch frontage to the model toy theatre in ‘The Magic Symphony’ at the start of its gold paint and glittery process.
This is a difficult prop to explain. It’s laying down for painting rather than upright for it’s purpose and is the sword part of the ‘Card Stab’ from ‘The Magic Cavern’, again at the final stages of making ahead of the priming, and then the paint.
Staying with ‘The Magic Cavern’, these small nugget pieces of fibreglass which are primed in acrylic primer undercoat and are just getting their colour added in this photo are the small rocks used in the effect of taking as many small pieces of rock from a jar, which resemble …. Ah, that would be telling too much. Come and see the show. Although, as of this year 2020, those turquoise rocks are now changing colour to the fluorescent orange motif colour to this production.
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