When we moved into our new house it was our mission to create a little menagerie of cool animals and characters – admittedly they are almost all ceramic, fabric or wood, but Dr B and I love them nonetheless and have invented back stories for all of them.
We have a collection of characters ‘protecting’ every room; here is a selection of our favourites…
Ferdinand and Isabella
We met this couple of bulls at Judy’s Vintage Fair in Bethnal Green. We got them for a song (I think a fiver for the pair). The mother and son duo are from Pamplona in Spain, Isabella is a bohemian pacifist and really didn’t want her boy getting into bull fighting so she came to East London after hearing that was where the art was at. However when Isabella heard about Wivenhoe’s amazing artistic heritage and community she was convinced this pretty estuary town was the perfect place to bring up her son – especially when she read about Wiv’s connection with Richard Chopping, Dennis Wirth-Miller and Francis Bacon in this article here.
Henry and Matilda
This Anglo-French couple were first introduced to us at Divine Intervintage. Theirs is a beautiful story of love beyond the boundaries of class. Henry is a good East End boy, poor but honest with a musical hall past. Matilda, on the other hand, went to the finest Parisian finishing schools and dined with the créme de la créme of French society. According to Matilda the duo met when some cad had left her stranded outside the Royal Opera House in the rain. Henry was passing by and charmed her with his ready wit and impeccable manners – he has certainly charmed us!
Cedric the Sparrow
Standing proud and resplendent in maple, Cedric may be a beautiful wooden turned Sparrow by designer Lars Beller Fjetland but what isn’t so well known is that Cedric’s also a leading academic. He has given lectures all around the world and is an expert in Egyptology – in fact he was working in the Cairo Museum of Antiquities when it all started kicking off in Tahrir Square. He prefers doing his research in the modernist masterpiece that is the Essex University Albert Sloman Library.
Cedric is very close to our resident poet Thoreau, an Alexander Girard handmade doll. He’s had a fairly colourful life, spending time in Havana, San Francisco, Ibiza and a period with Andy Warhol at the Factory. However he is notoriously discreet so he’s rubbish for getting gossip out of. But BRILLIANT for screenprinting and film-making tips!
This cloth cat has been friends with us for a long time. We met him at Family Tree in Exmouth Market. Ian’s life has been, well, eventful, and while he is mostly sober, sometimes we have been known to find him in a smoke-filled haze listening to Black Sabbath or hard-core nineties rave very loudly on his headphones with a thousand-yard stare on the go – we don’t judge him. We love him.
Luckily Ian has Mark. Mark is a Christian and, while DrB and I are not ‘believers’ we respect this wooden owl’s views. He has a qualification in counselling and is very understanding of Ian’s erratic behaviour having worked in various hostels around the country.