The Art of Smallfilms – The Work of Oliver Postgate & Peter Firmin

September 16, 2019 - Comment

Working from a cowshed on a farm in Kent, Oliver Postgate (1925-2008) and Peter Firmin (born 1928) produced some of the best-loved British children’s animated television of the 1960s and 1970s. Their iconic productions include “Bagpuss” (originally aired in 1974), “The Clangers” (1969-74), “Ivor The Engine” (1975-77), “Pogles’ Wood” (1966-68) and “Noggin The Nog” (1959-65).

Working from a cowshed on a farm in Kent, Oliver Postgate (1925-2008) and Peter Firmin (born 1928) produced some of the best-loved British children’s animated television of the 1960s and 1970s. Their iconic productions include “Bagpuss” (originally aired in 1974), “The Clangers” (1969-74), “Ivor The Engine” (1975-77), “Pogles’ Wood” (1966-68) and “Noggin The Nog” (1959-65). Postgate and Firmin worked together from 1959 through the 1980s, creating popular, beloved characters that appealed to children and their parents alike, like the whistling, mousy Clangers (knitted by Firmin’s wife Joan in bright pink wool) in outer space, the saggy, baggy cloth cat Bagpuss and the mild-mannered Viking boy Prince Noggin. Firmin painted the backdrops and created the models, and Postgate wrote scripts, did the stop-motion filming and frequently recorded the kindly, avuncular narration. This book, which includes a preface by Postgate’s son Daniel, presents the Smallfilms archive: the puppets and cutouts from these shows (including some of the characters who didn’t quite make the cut), along with insights into how they were created. The emphatically handmade models and painstakingly drawn illustrations that came to life in the Smallfilms productions are captured here in attentive, detailed photographs. The archive is presented like “a collection of artifacts in an exhibition detailing some much-admired twentieth-century art movement, like Fluxus or Dada,” as acclaimed English stand-up comedian Stewart Lee notes in his introduction. “The Art of Smallfilms,” full of pipe cleaners, cotton balls, wire and ping-pong balls, celebrates the imagination and ingenuity of two artists who shaped a generation’s childhood.

Comments

Anonymous says:

A wonderful celebration of the aesthetics of nostalgia! Over the years I’ve found that most things related to Jonny Trunk and his celebration of the world of the aesthetics of nostalgia are well worth a look – actually, even the things that initially strike me as a few shades beyond odd usually end up well worth a look/listen/read. However, even by his high standards, this work is an absolute gem. ‘The art of Smallfilms – the work of Oliver Postgate & Peter Firmin’ edited by Jonny Trunk and Richard Embray is a beautiful object and one where the…

Anonymous says:

A wonderful book full of ineffable charm! This book is a loving tribute to the wonderful creations of Smallfilms. I was expecting great things from this book and it doesn’t disappoint. This book is everything a fan could ever want, its a hefty 300 odd pages and chock full of fantastic high quality photography and interesting facts. The book itself feels very high quality and its a thing of beauty clearly made with a lot of love. Its all here including Bagpuss, the clangers, pogles wood, ivor the engine It really is an amazing insight…

Anonymous says:

Surely the feel-good nostalgia book of the year! This is a lovely book – a time machine taking you right back to a truly golden age of children’s TV shows. It is mainly a picture book, a trawl through the Smallfilms archive, presented mainly in superb quality photographs and a smattering of words. Every significant Smallfilms show is featured, with delightfully detailed images of characters and sets, from Ivor the Engine, Pogle’s Wood, Noggin the Nog, The Clangers, to the legend himself, Bagpuss.We bought this as a gift for a…

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