Sunday, May 11, 2008

At the car boot sale this morning, for a mere £1, I bought TWO books by my childhood hero, Wilf Lunn:

(Full size scans are on my Flickr pages, see link on left.)

There was nothing else there and I came home early, really because I couldn't wait to read them. They are brilliant, full of Wilf's unhinged inventions and wonderfully 70's illustrations, many of them so dangerous (bending glass, soldering with a gas torch) or politically incorrect ("granny scarers") that they would never be allowed today.

Wilf popped to prominence on "Vision On", the completely bats 1960's and 70's BBC television programme for deaf children, which was - obviously - all about non-verbal communications and which launched the careers of Wilf Lunn, Tony Hart, Ardman Animations, Sylvester McCoy and Pat Keysell. I normally would never post a link to YouTube, but there is a section of one of these shows here and a title sequence with Wilf here. Unfortunately, I can't find any clips of Wilf's inventions in action.
(Watch out for the potted art-history lesson in the first few minutes of the first clip: an essay in minimalism and humour and the subtlest of education.)

Vision On, specifically Wilf Lunn, was an incredible influence on my work today: Wilf's work is all about taking things which have one function and making them have another, his creations were all from bits of coat-hanger, washing-up liquid bottles, magnifying lenses, coffee tins and the like, but he completely managed to avoid the safe "prettiness" of Blue Peter, making things which were probably going to fail, but in a way in which you learned something and made modifications to get it to work, or were tricked into thinking for yourself about how to make something else entirely.

Childrens' television today is so bland and passive.