Friday, 30 March 2018

From the Vaults: December 2012 'Franktastic Christmas party balloon'

I found this in the Vault today, a promotional balloon from the 2012 Franktastic Christmas party event featuring an image by me, commissioned by the Frank Sidebottom Statue Fund the image was originally used for the event's poster (based on artwork that Frank himself created for his Christmas is really Fantastic LP) but I was tickled pink so see it also feature on the events balloons! You will recall this event played a major part in raising funds for the statue of Frank which now stands proudly in his home town of Timperley.

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

RIP Marie Julia Roberts 1938-2018

With my grandmother in 1998
holding a portrait of her dogs that she commissioned.
It's been a rather emotional time, my grandmother Marie Julia Roberts was laid to rest this week after a long battle with Alzheimer's aged 79. Although I try to keep these posts 'relativity' light and on topic it's actually seems only right that I devote this post to nain* because when I was aged three I believe she steered my life in this direction. It is very likely that I would not have been an artist and so this very website might not have ever existed had it not been for my grandmother and something that happened when I was three years of age. As I amused myself with a box of felt-tip pens and some sheets of paper I drew some clowns, why clowns I can't remember, but I drew a happy one (the one featured on this post), a sad one, a fat one and a thin one and when I was done I showed them to my grandmother who not only praised them but also showed them to everyone and told me that I had talent, I was told that I could actually draw and from that day on I was the kid that drew cartoons that aspired to someday becoming an artist.
Although we didn't always see eye-to-eye at times she was always the one Id go to during a 'crisis' and she was always supportive of my craft and when there was an artist or cartoonist on the TV my grandmother would inform me of it and if there was an article in the paper she would save it for me. As I grew older and my style developed I would still be summoned to gran's house to show off my portfolio to a distant relative or friend of the family that had stopped by that day and the first art sale I made was a cartoon I sold to her when I was trying to get some money to buy a comic and I guess you could say that my first solo art exhibition was the time she pinned my drawings up in her porch. She encouraged me to go to art collage, attended end of year shows and was there for my graduation. Since her illness worsened six years ago not a day has gone by that I haven't missed being able to go over to see her, tell her for the millionth time that I didn't like tomato sandwiches before tucking into a plate of cheese on toast with Branston pickle and tell her about my latest projects and ideas. I have no idea what direction my life would have taken had it not been for her support and the thought of pursuing this course without her makes me incredibly sad but onwards I go. I intend to see it through as I firmly believe its what she would have wanted.
I miss you nain x

* Welsh word for grandmother

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Prehistoric Pinning: Drayton Manor Dino Land

As addressed in my previous Prehistoric Pinning devoted to (former) Dinosaur World Colwyn Bay I do love me a fibreglass dinosaur! Another park which catered to this love of model dinos was Drayton Manor which I visited back in 1995. A relaxing walk leading up to the Zoo it also had some handy placards providing information about dinosaurs and yes being an excitable, hormonal teenager I hammed it up for the camera... Drayton Manor Theme Park near Tamworth first opened to the public in 1950 after the Bryan family converted 80 acres of derelict land into this tourist attraction which now sees more than one million visitors each year. Always wanting to give the public something new and exciting they introduced Dinosaur Land to the park in 1975 before opening a phase 2 the following year that adjoined the park’s zoo and this was filled with life-size models of dinosaurs (as Wikipia put it, “to intrigue and enthrall the kids”) sadly I have been unable to find a list of all the dinosaurs that featured however when ‘Dino Land’ closed in 2009 the attraction had featured the following exhibits,

Dienosuchus
Tricertops
Spinosaurus
Iguanadon
Brontosaurus (Brachiosaurus)
Mammoth
Smiledon
Cavemen
Cave Bear
Baby T-Rex
Titanis
Pterodactyl
Pleisiosaurus
Egg Nests

I say “closed” it was actually re-located and re-named ‘Dino Trail’ in 2010 and I am pleased to report that some of the original dinosaurs feature in it, namely the T-Rex, Baby T-Rex, Euoplocephalus, Iguanadon, Dimetrodon, Titanis, Pachycephalosaurus, Ornithomimus, Styracosaurus, Protoceratops, Placodus, Tanystropheus, Tylosaurus, Elasmosaurus and the Nothosaurus.
Back in 2016 it was revealed that the old section, despite being closed for several years was still standing and offered some amazingly beautiful sights of derelict dinosaurs and cobwebbed cavemen! Seeing as the previous post featured some postcards from the attraction I thought I would also include the ones I have from Drayton Manor (referred to as 'Lost World') If I manage to track down others I will update accordingly.
My sincere thanks to Drayton Manor’s Education Officer Lee Green for his time and kindness.

Drayton manor 'Lost World' Postcards Iguanadon, Phororachos, Cave Bears and Sabre Tooth Tigers
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

"Well Hello Mr. Fancy Pants!"

Remember the 2008 writers strike? When 12,000 screenwriters and TV writers armed with placards demanding compensation from the large studios for all the DVD's and online download sales they were excluded from? As the US television industry ground to a halt most actors found themselves cooling their heels waiting for it to pass and one of them was one of my favourite actors, the King of the 'B-movies', Bruce Campbell star of The Evil Dead, Maniac Cop and Bubba Ho-Tep who used the strike as an opportunity to come over the UK to meet fans and promote his latest movie My Name is Bruce and I.. had appendicitis...

Robbed of the opportunity to meet one of my all time favourite actors I spent the next ten years monitoring the UK convention circuit hoping that he would come over and see us again and sure enough this month he embarked on a UK and Ireland tour promoting his latest book 'Hail to the Chin'. Confident that my appendix would not spoil my plans again Mrs Jones and I set off for London to attend Walker Stalker Con a convention devoted to The Walking Dead (a show that Bruce Campbell hasn't been in and I haven't watched) to meet one of my idols. Since my good friend David Lynch introduced me to the Evil Dead trilogy twenty years ago in art collage Bruce Campbell has been a constant part of my life. I've based a lot of my own style and my attitude towards life, my keenness to discuss his work played a small part in the courting of Mrs Jones, I've read his books, played his computer games and even dressed as his most famous role for Halloween (see previous post) and so to finally have the opportunity to meet the man himself, shake his hand and thank him for the happiness his work has given me was a genuine delight, he even complimented my shirt!
Hail to the King Baby!


© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day: Milicent Patrick “The Beauty Who Created the Beast”

Today is International Women’s Day and we celebrate women that have inspired us, so I thought I would celebrate one of my favourite female artist Milicent Patrick. Regrettably not many of us recognise the name but we certainly know her work and that's it really, very little information about her and her life exists! We think her real name was Mildred Elizabeth Fulvia di Rossi and that she was the daughter of Italian baroness Baronesa di Polombara and architect Camille Charles Rossi and that she worked both in front and behind the camera but received very little onscreen credit for her work and that's about it, nobody really knows what became of her after the 1980s and even the Screen Actors Guild simply lists her as ‘missing’. But if we accept what we (sort of) know it makes her an amazing woman worthy of celebration as she would have not only been the first female animator hired by Disney but also the designer of the Xenomorph in It Came from Outer Space and the Metaluna mutant from This Island Earth. We know she worked as a mask maker on Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Mole People and we know that she created one the most famous, iconic creature designs for Universal, the Gill Man from The Creature from the Black Lagoon because during Universal’s marketing campaign for Creature from the Black Lagoon they billed her, “The Beauty Who Created the Beast” along with photos of her sketching the Gill Man and posing with the mask. Unfortunately this was to be her undoing however when make-up artist Bud Westmore took umbrage with her not crediting the entire team involved in its creation (she had in fact credited the staff on numerous occasions ironically a trait Westmore himself did not share) and he vowed never to never hire her as an artist again thus killing off a promising artistic career. This sad factor aside she was clearly a tremendously accomplished artist and responsible for one of the most iconic screen monsters ever created and I salute you Milicent Patrick, wherever you are!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. I do not own nor do I claim ownership of the photographs featured in this article.

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