“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
I have wanted to interpret the wonderful world of Winnie The Pooh ever since creating the first chapter of my Storyteller works. A recent trip out to the cinema with family to watch the ‘Christopher Robin’ movie was the catalyst to begin as the narrative caught me out, seeing the consequences of neglecting one’s family because of work played out in such a considered manner struck a chord and pulled at the heart strings. Innocent yet guilty.
The challenge for this piece was deciding what would be best fitting, to embrace the beautiful sunlight that shines through 100 Acre Wood or to stand in the shadows of the Heffalumps and Woozles. If I’m honest, it’s a pretty even split as there is so much within the original narrative and the theories behind the characters that lends itself to a very intense and complex piece. However, at the time of planning this scene the sun was shining through the studio window and the clouds had cleared within my mind so what we see is an image that embraces everything that is enchanting and uplifting, created to make you feel comforted and nostalgic.
New works will feature modern-day references to link to the world that we live within and seek to escape from when we reminisce, acting as a stark contrast and helping to relay my narrative. This is showcased within the scene in front of you as you look out across the stunning East Sussex landscape. A table is being set for afternoon tea, but for whose benefit? Look at the details that surround the bench, is this simply a case of parent playing out their child’s fantasy or rather their own? Maybe their love for the story still takes up so much space in their heart? Has obsession won through and the only friends dining are those still cherished from childhood? Sometimes the smallest things take the most room.
As a father experiencing the pressures that come with having a beautiful daughter racing towards her teens, it is becoming increasingly evident just how the world we look back to in seek of comfort is so completely different to the one that we reside within. This piece reflects that, it’s a tale of contrasts, darkness and light yet represented in a different way. The scene acknowledges the change from how we used to read the stories by A.A Milne as children to how ours often now do. Does that mean that the screen dilutes the scene? Probably not, is there a case for pixels actually creating a much more engaging and immersive experience for the young mind? Possibly.
My aim, as with so much of my work is to create interaction between characters, to convey emotion. What I strive to achieve is creating an image that isn’t static, where what you see now is different to the one that I created a moment before. A stark iPad left in the grass soon attracts the attention of a woodland rabbit, or two ladybirds become acquainted… It is very much what you can’t see that is as important as what you can, that is where your imagination is awakened.
As the process of creating these pieces evolves over a good number of days they can often end up very different to what was initially intended as my mindset may change, even for that short moment. I will be honest, with this piece I had to fight the urge to mutate the concept and inject another level to the narrative based around the modern-day gadgets but out of respect for all of those who adore Winnie and friends I chose not to. It’s still there, I’m just not going to tell you!
So many know and love the characters for their ‘Disneyfied’ feel and I can see why, however further embracing the contrasts I have chosen to show the original toys that Christopher Robin owned as a child that inspired his father to create his masterpieces. They are beautiful and show their age and personality so well. Christopher actually lost Roo in an Appleyard back then so exists in the modern state, sat next to Kanga this reinforces the concept.
It’s amazing what happens when there is tea and honey, everyone and everything joins in. What’s with the random black bear cub and swan? You won’t find these within the Disney store yet these are two fundamental animals that without them things would be very different. Pooh bear was actually inspired by both, Winnie being a Canadian bear cub that Christopher Robin saw in a London Zoo and changed his teddy bear from Edward to Winnie. As for Pooh? Well, originally Pooh was a swan, a different character entirely!
I hope you enjoy this piece and it keeps you looking towards the sun.