‘Finding my feet’ including creative nonfiction, photos, posts and poems.
I come from a family of marionette makers and performers and performed with my own marionettes for several years before marriage, motherhood, divorce, teaching, becoming an artist, freelance journalism and latterly a poet.
I moved to Brighton ten years ago following the death of my mother and having spent most of my life in London.
I include places I visit, galleries in Brighton and London, the people I meet, the natural world, some of my poems, my garden, allotment, marionettes, there is mild humour here and there and sometimes a touch of home-spun philosophy.
I still paint and write poetry. I’m also a keen photographer so there are plenty of pics and even some films, mini documentaries, places, gardens etc.
Writing has always been part of my existence but I returned to writing poetry about ten years ago, rather late in life. But I have had a few poems published in magazines, won a local prize and published two collections.
The Puppeteer’s Daughter – A second collection of poems published August 2016 – available in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE and at the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean at £6.95. It is also available from Lulu and Amazon. Please click on the link at the side of this page to purchase.
The following endorsements are probably over generous but never mind
The poems explore the complexity of life as the daughter of marionette makers and performers. But there are also poems concerned with life, love and loss, also the seaside, artists, allotments and the eccentricities of life.
Some of the poems were written during a residency in Postman’s Park in the City of London, thanks to The Poetry School ‘Mixed Borders’ scheme with London Parks and Gardens Trust.
Fifteen poets took part, each one writing poems in one of London’s open Spaces. The event is called ‘Open London Squares Weekend.’
‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ came out six years ago. Some individual poems had been published in Magazines.
On sale in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE. TEL: 01273 725306 and the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean.
John McCullough ‘Ann’s poetry covers the big topics of love and death with originality. Take for instance the title poem which is full of surprises yet also wonderfully poignant.’
Kiersty Boon ‘This collection of poems, fully illustrated by the author, is a wonderful journey from a magical childhood of puppets and seaside towns. The delicacy of the difficult stages of life and memories experienced are offset with humorous anecdotes and magical tales for young and old alike.’
The colour version is lovely but unfortunately had to be priced at £18 due to the cost of colour printing so is only available on line from Lulu.
Above – The West Pier – pen and ink. Robin my eldest son as a child – oil on paper.
‘The Hole in the Wall’ Started a a picture book poem, but when I could not get it published I made it into a film and put it on youtube.
What a surprise when The Dry Stone Walling Association discovered it and and asked if they could produce the book and sell it on their site.
Picture Book available at from The Dry Stone Walling Association on the following link http://www.dswa.org.uk/books-dvds.asp
I am all for trying something new so I have put some of my poems from my first book on a podcast.
The following link goes to some of my rhymes, poems and films for children.
This link is to poetry from one of my blog pages.
Mini memoir –
I was born with a cleft palate in London during an air raid. It was the same week that a bomb narrowly missed landing on Buckingham Place.
I was lucky that my mouth was mended several months later but I had problems speaking clearly as a child. Strangely my mother just forgot to tell me about this until I was about 30!
When my father returned from active service my parents became marionette makers and performers. We lived in our grandparents’ house on the edge of Highgate.
We had a room set up as a theatre with red velvet tip up seats from a cinema and people came to see our shows.
The world of art, mime and stagecraft were part of our lives as well as the insecurity. that goes with a bohemian life style. We were rich or poor depending on the sun and the season.
My sister and I sometimes missed school. Summer seasons were from June until early in October. Once we were left in the care of our extremely patient grandparents until the end of the school term.
My mother did a tour with a show in Germany and once performed in an ice show in Morecambe. At such times my father continued to create new marionettes at home.
At eighteen I was billed as the youngest professional puppeteer in Britain and gained an Equity card when performing at Eastbourne Hippodrome. I toured in Variety’ with cabaret marionettes and was once on the same bill as Max Miller. Later we all worked on the TV version of The Goon Show’ – ‘The Telegoons.’
At 23 I was married with two lovely sons, but divorced 8 years later.
Our final reunion as a family of puppeteers was in 1968 when we made the marionettes and performed in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on Brighton’s West Pier.
I needed a new career so trained as a teacher and had a modest grant. When I had qualified I taught in a primary school and also studied with the OU. Later I taught gypsies on a permanent site and art in a comprehensive school.
My career moved on and I was part of a team of professionals running education programmes in a secure unit. Finally I was a manager and tutor in an adult education institute in Lambeth and studied part-time for an M.Sc. at Birkbeck.
When adult education institutes were closed in London I retrained to become an NLP therapist working freelance in Primary Care Trusts and on a voluntary basis for two charities.
Following my father’s death my mother moved nearby. I simply adored her and when she died in particularly sad circumstances, I realised I had also lost my creative partner. Grief stricken I moved to the coast with my wonderful, adoring and supportive long-term partner!
Now finally retired I tried to cheer myself up and trained with Jill Edwards and did some stand up comedy. We had to write our own material and I managed to get a place in the New Acts Night at the Komedia.
Finally I discovered a one day a week Creative writing/poetry course at Sussex University with the inspirational John McCullough who has always had faith in my work!
Films – You might like my films? When we lived in London I belonged to a film club, OVFM, where I sometimes won minor awards.
Some have had thousands of hits, others just a few. So take you pick
I loved making this one. Virginia Woolf’s garden.
Marionettes update and website.
I have had a website for our marionettes for over fifteen years. It is old in terms of website design but still have affection for it.
please click on the link http://www.puppethouse.co.uk/
Our marionettes have performed since 1949 in Marionette Musicals. these used to include – our puppet circus, singers dancers, musicians, underwater ballet, our own plays and extracts from the classics
A series of films – remakes of our shows that I gradually add to youtube
Alice in Wonderland – was the first and hardest one to make. It is my favourite and was made a couple of years before my mother died In her late 70s she climbed up into the loft of my house in South London to operate some of the characters. The boat scene in the garden was a labour of love and took forever.
Our puppet circus.
A reconstruction based on our popular puppet circus in the 50s and 60s but sadly without the famous clowns’ repartee which I subsequently found on a reel to reel tape..
A circus was always part of our show which included a strong man and an acrobat on a horse. Unfortunately some of our marionettes were stolen so I could not include them. Ironically the strong man turned up at an auction along with some other favourites such as ‘Mademoiselle de Paris’ a few years ago. I hasten to say the seller was completely unaware they had once been ours.
A re-construction giving a taste of some of our circus, part of our show at Buckingham Palace for a children’s party given by Her Majesty the Queen – please click on the following link
In 2014 – As part of their commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War BBC South East filmed the conservation of the marionettes and interviewed me about my family’s role in performing with them in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on Brighton’s West Pier in the 60’s. We all went to the Duke of York’s Cinema for a special showing of the original film.
In 2015 – There are artifacts and posters from the various films, a model of the car made by Emett for the film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’ I know because I helped to set up our contribution with the dedicated and creative Marcus Bagshaw, the curator at the Grange, and had a quick preview of the wonderful things which would be on display..
Our marionettes were part of an exhibition called ‘CINEMA BY THE SEA’ an exhibtion ar the The Grange Museum and Art Gallery In Rottingdean 2015 -2016.
I am always seeking places to display all or some of our 200 marionettes that are currently in storage.
Writing my blogs! This is a labour of love.
Another of several passions in life is our allotment on the Weald –
This is the history of creating our allotment. We got it after three years on the waiting list. Basically a small muddy field with an abandoned pond so naturally it became the subject of a blog!
I write another site with tips for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder – winter depression. I put up posts on a regular basis because I have this condition myself and want to share how NLP may keep symptoms at bay.
Retire to the seaside? Think very carefully
Brighton’s beach is not like this!
Please note I seldom if ever mention other members of my family still in the land of the living! I adore my grandsons all doing interesting things but it is really a case of respecting everyone’s privacy!
If you have got this far thank you for your patience. Ann