scribbling and scheming for… MONSTERVILLE!

I can honestly say, I don’t think anyone in the whole Western hemisphere had a meeting as fun as we had today at Stratford’s Discover Centre, getting ready for MONSTERVILLE!

When amazing illustrators Neal Layton, Ed Vere and I settled down at the meeting table, we found our biscuits staring back at us!

That first colour picture’s by Ed. At the last meeting, we’d been madly brainstorming ideas to come up with a space where visitors could get lost down a trail and end up in a formerly undiscovered village where only monsters live. This time, we had a big Show & Tell session of our sketches! And everyone agree that it would be okay if I give you a peek at what we got up to. (Hurrah!) Here’s Neal with his sketch for a central bandstand:

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you’ll have seen some of my sketches here for a boutique for dapper monsters and a monster ice cream parlour. Here’s the Stratford team (Sally Goldsworthy, Kate Wolstenholme, Eleanor Butler & Ed) surveying some of Neal’s new monsters:

Monsterville is scheduled to open on 27 May 2011 and run for nine months so lots of families can visit and they can run loads of activity events with school groups.

Ed, me (with monster gloves) & Neal:

One of Ed’s drawings for the stairwell leading down to the monster trail.

Some of Neal’s plans for an interactive monster art gallery and library (that’s his agent, Tamlyn Francis, laughing in the background):

Ed brought his laptop with some colour images. Although he’s thinking now that the backdrop for this might be orange, not blue.

I was super impressed by Paul Callaghan (in the grey shirt), who’s trained in theatre design and knows loads of stuff about different materials we can use. We looked at different textures for the ground. (Should it be squidgy in places underfoot? Farty? Spongy? Grassy?) And he had a model of the big room we’re working with, so we could get a better idea of how the forest trail and monster shops could fit in.

An idea by Ed for the forest trail:

More monster by Neal:

We were invaded by rats from the current Lauren Child exhibition:

And a cat – never been out of the box! – which must have had light-sensitive diodes in it or something, because anytime anyone would come near it, it would start moving or mewing, or lick its paw. Then every once in awhile, a few plaintive mews would come for the corner where we’d banished it. Paul said we could paint it green and torch it, to turn it into a monster, but I think it’s actually a gift for his daughter. It was well freaky.

I think we’re going to borrow this chandelier in the room for the monster boutique.

Now we’ve made the initial sketches, Neal, Ed and I all getting on with our picture books and regular work while Paul and the team make lots of measurements and calculations regarding the space and materials; issues such as, how much will the set designers project our drawings onto the walls and paint the larger versions for us? Will they print our drawings onto vinyl? These things will all affect how we create the images for them to blow up big and make 3-D.

We celebrated with mulled drinks and mince pies around the corner at the Arena agency Christmas party, an excellent end to a great afternoon. Going home, the Jubilee Line wasn’t working at its best (maybe because of the snow, but mostly likely it was just a bit irritable), and was packed with people trying to get to the Lady Gaga concert at the Millennium Dome. I hope no one had to miss it, they all sounded very excited.

All I can say to end, is that my mind was totally blown, I’ve never had so much fun at a work meeting in my life! We definitely have the best jobs in the whole world. Ed and Neal are total geniuses, this is going to be amazing.

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