May 31st, 2012

jubilee painting with rolf harris!

Edit: I've had a HUGE number of enquiries about the plate featured on the show. Here's the BBC reply!: The Rolf Paints…The Diamond Jubilee china plate (with his painting of Windsor Castle printed on) will be available later this year through Children In Need. Please keeping checking our website - for further details/updates.

Here in Britain, it's almost the Diamond Jubilee weekend! And what better way to celebrate than to make a lino cut print of a mad corgi? Here you go: In corgis we trust. That's written in my best fake Google-translator Latin. I made this for the BBC! Well, actually, this was a practice run, the night before. I got a call awhile ago from producer Veronica Thorne, asking me if I wanted to spend a full day making a picture of the Queen to celebrate the Jubilee... with Rolf Harris!

Oh my. Funnily enough, because I grew up in America, I didn't really know much about Rolf Harris, except that he had painted a portrait of the Queen. And he's consistantly rated Britain's most popular artist (which irks the fine arts establishment to no end, so hurrah, good for him!).

I thought I'd better look my best for telly, so I bought a new work apron and stamped the corgi onto the front of it. The ink on it was still wet the next morning, so I tried not to touch it, then rub my nose and wind up with a smudgy face on the Beeb.

The Fleece Station studio has a proud history of monarch-related activities, generally involving yarn or silly wigs. So I figured I had everything I needed to do a good job on set.

Oh, and a new fancy hat. With which I surprised Mr Harris when I met him at breakfast.

When I told people I was meeting Rolf Harris, they all reacted very animatedly, and several people mentioned videos I absolutely had to go watch. Here's one from 1969, Jake the Peg. Poor Gary had to listen to me keep accidentally singing this in the studio for the next couple days. So fabulous.

And here's an episode from The Goodies, when they breed Rolf Harrises in captivity and they escape. The guy's originally Australian, but he's a legend here in Britain. (If you like, you can watch that Goodies show from the beginning here.)

So here was our set-up! We filmed in the vaults of the Old Vic, under Waterloo Station. Which was a bit tricky for the camera crew because the trains kept rumbling overhead. But they set up the area like a street party and it looked very welcoming and festive. They'd invited 60 artists in total, one for each year of the Queen's reign.

If you're interested, you'll be able to watch the whole show, Rolf Paints, on Tuesday, 5 June, BBC1, 6:30-7:30pm.

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