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monsterville grand opening!!!

MONSTERVILLE... It's so totally fabulous, I don't even know where to start! Today was the Grand Opening Day at Stratford's Discover Centre in northeast London, and the construction team had been working late into the night yesterday so it would be ready when Neal Layton, Ed Vere and I arrived to see our drawings turned 3-D, and the monster mob descended. And it was AMAZING. I spent the first twenty minutes running around babbling wildly with excitement. Here I am, crawling around in Ed's monster mouth.

Here's the spooky forest pathway that leads the voyagers to the monster village. It starts off in a wardrobe with clawed and shredded suits, with some crazy sounds orchestrated by Sam Usher.

Monsterville has a tiny monster cinema! Neal couldn't arrive until later because he was coming from Portsmouth, but Ed and I got there early and went a big mad running around.

Here's Ed, having a peek through the doors.

Ooooo! It's real! There are MONSTERS in the watching monster films!!!

The lighting effects are wicked; I love the way these ones make my Beauty & Beast window display cast monstrous shadows.

Here are some of my little friends fishing in Neal's pond.

Let's go into the Beauty & Beast boutique!

Here's the Discover Centre's Eleanor Butler, modelling one of my wigs.

I had a blast seeing people trying them on.

And here's my Lolliplops ice cream parlour, leading on to Neal's Monster Gallery.

Earlier I'd made a sketch of an eyeball cash register, and they'd made it happen!

The head technician, Paul Callaghan, asked us to sign our buildings. I've never signed a building before! (Or if I have, I won't admit it.)

You can just see my monster cake through the window.

Eleanor posing in Neal's bandstand: it has buttons on the supporting columns which play different instruments.

Now let's go down the street to the Monster Gallery...

Check out Neal's cool trompe d'oeil effect with the flooring! The big books if for sticking in everyone's monster drawings.

Ed and I christened the book with its first drawings. Here's Ed's:

And my drawing:

The gallery has a magnetic board, like a giant fridge, where you can stick monster body parts together.

Here's Discover's director, Sally Goldsworthy, modelling with monster parts.

The entrance lobby has a map of Monsterville.

A monster newsstand! One of Discover's workers also freelances for The Guardian and wrote up the newspaper copy. It's going to get lots of use with school groups coming in to try their own hand at monster journalism.

The entrance wardrobe:

Ed's cool monsters on the entrance staircase:

Ed was super chuffed to see his monster drawing blown up so large on the centre's front window.

Ed, Neal and I all led our own events, but my favourite was the MONSTER DRAW-OFF. The kids gave us categories of monsters to draw, and the three of us had three minutes to come up with a monster in that category. Then the kids voted for the best monster. Here's my entry for 'angry monster'. (I won that round.)

Here's Ed's drawing for 'musical monster'. (Ed won that round, hands-down. Or pants-down, I should say.)

Photo by Apryl Hammett

You can see a few more here: 'sad monster', 'evil monster' and 'cuddly monster'.

This is Ed's drawing for 'monster wedding'. Tongues!

You might notice little comments around the edges; there were dodgy bits of sabotage and attempts to influence the crowd going on there.

Here we are! Neal, me and Ed. BEST MONSTER DRAW-OFF TEAM EVER. We totally want to do that again, we had so much fun. Festivals, take note: the three of us might be persuadable!

This is my Monsterville hero, Paul Callaghan, technician extraordinaire. A HUGE thanks to the whole team who made this happen. I think this is the most fun job I've ever had.

Neal showed us lots of his monster drawings during his event, although he claimed never actually to have seen a monster.

Ed made no such claim. He says he was followed home by this monster, and was very scared, but very inspired for our project.

Here's a visualiser projecting Ed drawing with his old-fashioned surveyor's dip pen and ink.

Kids drew loads of monsters today.

I thought this kid's monster was rather smashing.

Here's giddy me with my fab friend Caroline Smith, who brought her kids along.

Thanks so much to all my friends and colleagues who came to see Monsterville today! It's going to be open until March next year, and you can have a look here at the summer schedule of events. If you're in London, don't miss it! There's another whole floor upstairs with other fun stuff where kids can run around and explore, also well worth the visit.

You can see past posts about building Monsterville (sketches, photos) if you click here and scroll way down.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
This is incredible. This is like a dream come true. Now I REEEEEEEALLY wish I was going to be in London soon!!
May. 29th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
Hi, Raina! Thanks! And it's true, I used to build villages out of Lego and draw fun parks and things, but I never would have believed someone would pay me to do it. Definitely a dream come true.

I hope you do get out to London one of these days! :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 29th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I had a fabulous time with the wigs. :D
May. 29th, 2011 08:31 am (UTC)
Pretty damn cool. That 'pond' is gorgeous.
May. 29th, 2011 08:45 am (UTC)
Isn't it! I had no idea what the pond was going to look like, and it turned out way cooler than I could have expected. Glad to hear you were able to go to the Alternative Press Fair yesterday!
May. 29th, 2011 08:48 am (UTC)
All very cool & looks like everyone had good fun.
May. 29th, 2011 08:51 am (UTC)
Hi, Selina! Thanks! It was amazing running around seeing it all, I never thought something like that would happen.
May. 29th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)
I'm so thrilled and so jealous! This looks like such a fantastic project to work on!

Closest I'll get to it is the Big Draw later this year but still looking forward to it!
May. 29th, 2011 10:12 am (UTC)
The Discover Centre is doing loads of stuff, they're always getting in more and more creators to do different kinds of events. Keep an eye on them, there might be ways to get involved! Are you doing the Big Draw at Discover or elsewhere?
May. 29th, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
At Manchester Museum, but will definitely look into the Discover Centre. Might ask my line manager if I can do outreach there and get kids interested in drawing nature!
May. 29th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
The most amazing thing I have ever seen!! @_@
May. 30th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Yay, thanks, Dave! :D
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May. 30th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! :D
May. 30th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
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User allah_sulu referenced to your post from No title saying: [...] Ο.Π. [...]
May. 30th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
A real hit
My daughter Marcella was at the opening as a member of the Discover Children's Forum. She was very excited to see you there but far too shy to introduce herself. I would have come along too but I was hit by a car crossing the road 12 weeks ago and am still on crutches. Looking forward to seeing it when I can - Marcella tells me that it is amazing.

Best wishes,

Jun. 10th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC)
Re: A real hit
Hi Joan, sorry, I only just realised I hadn't replied to your comment! So sad about the accident, I hope you are recovering well. And yes, I hope you'll be able to visit Monsterville!
May. 30th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
It's a glorious monster wonderland!
Neal Layton
May. 31st, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
heh heh!
Great pics and blog entry Sarah!!
Jun. 1st, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Oh my GOSH! This is AMAZING! Look at all that gorgeous stuff!!! Those wigs, SO FREAKIN COOL!!
Jun. 1st, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
aaaand that was me!
Jun. 10th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC)
Hee hee! Just realised I hadn't replied to this. Thanks, Jess! :D
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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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