Category Archives: Just Having Fun

Sunday Bear Necessities

Do you know who is the best-selling French author?

Little bears know this is a trick question! So far as we know, the best-selling French author of all time probably isn’t one person, but two. And these two people were never in the business of writing novels, but of making comics. They are writer René Goscinny and cartoonist Albert Uderzo. They created Asterix.

The Asterix comic first appeared on October 29, 1959. The series presents the adventures of the inhabitants of the famous little village in Armorique, on the Brittany coast — the only part of ancient Gaul never conquered by the Romans. After 37 world-famous adventures, the main hero is getting ready to celebrate his 60th birthday. With a 38th adventure, more than likely…

Asterix is, as the Parisian publishing houses put it, un phénomène. More than 350 million copies of the books have been sold since the story first began in the comic magazine Pilote in 1959. There have been thousands of licensing deals signed, hundreds of translations produced, more than a dozen films released (Asterix at the Olympic Games was one of the top-grossing movies of 2008), and even a theme park constructed on the peripheries of the French capital. The country’s very first satellite, launched in 1965, bore the name Asterix.

In 1991, for France’s bicentennial celebration, Asterix made the cover of a TIME magazine special edition on “the new France”.

Many people in France talk of the “Asterix syndrome” and the “village gaulois” (Gallic village), the idea that tiny, embattled France needs to defend itself against the encroaching cultural influences of the US, or the English language, or both. Usually used pejoratively, the terms indicate an inward, backward-looking way of seeing the world. The sentiment is also tied up with the French obsession with its cultural exception, the various rules and regulations designed to protect the French way of life from outside forces: French singers must sing in French, English words are banned from advertising, half of all TV shows on air must be European, and so on. It’s no surprise that France’s colourful anti-globalisation activist José Bové, who happens to sport a Gallic handlebar mustache, has been dubbed a modern-day Asterix for his campaigns against McDonald’s and genetically modified foods.

José Bové

In 2010, a McDonald’s advert featuring Asterix enjoying a hamburger and fries sparked outrage among French comic purists who claimed the Gallic hero had surrendered to the American fast food chain. Quelle horreur!

The scene was a send-up of the comic book’s normal village banquet. Instead of feasting on ale and wild boar, they tuck into Coca Cola and a Big Mac. “Come as you are”, read the slogan on the bottom of the billboard, which was designed by Euro RSCG, the advertising agency.

Albert Uderzo was consulted for the McDonald’s advertising campaign and his studio drew the picture.

For years McDonald’s had been dogged by anti-American feeling in France. In August 1999, José Bové dismantled a McDonald’s restaurant under construction in Millau, southern France. In 2009, there was uproar from French cultural and gastronomic purists when the fast food chain announced it would open an outlet just outside the Louvre museum in Paris. But despite such attacks, McDonald’s has pulled off a remarkably successful rebranding exercise in France. It has Frenchified its menu, takes 80 per cent of its beef from national farmers and has a stand in Paris’ annual agricultural fair. Top French food critics have admitted it is far from the worst fast food chain. And despite the country’s reputation as the birthplace of haute cuisine, the French have shown their love for the American chain with their stomachs: France is the company’s second-most profitable market after the US. It is also the country where customers spend most money per visit. Ahem…

Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix

What accounts for the appeal of Asterix and Obelix, the indefatigable Gauls who hold out against the far more powerful Roman legionnaires? How is it that the two unlikely warriors “conquered”, as one commentator put it, more territory than Napoleon? Central to it, in the opinion of illustrator Albert Uderzo, is the triumph of the underdog in the eternal David-versus-Goliath battle. Asterix and Obelix also represent the union of ingenuity and brute force, of restrained wisdom and untamed raw energy, of yin and yang.

Albert Uderzo, the French illustrator who launched the Asterix comics in 1959 with author René Goscinny, with his characters Asterix, left, and Obelix

The Asterix comics provide chuckle-inducing amusement for discerning readers who have a rudimentary understanding of Latin turns of phrases (so that’s why we studied Latin in school!) and the word plays on names (of characters and places), and the clever puns that Goscinny wove in — which have translated remarkably well across 111 languages and dialects thanks to careful translators.

Illustratively, in the original French version, Obelix’s dog is called Idéfix (which is a play on idée fixe – ‘fixed idea’); and the name in the English-language comic is Dogmatix, which retains the idea of an obsession, and additionally introduces the play on the word ‘dog’.

Idéfix / Dogmatix

The situational humour in the Asterix series comes in large part from the stereotyping of cultures, in Europe and elsewhere, and in the exaggerated caricature of traits that are portrayed as typifying communities. Asterix’s adventures have taken him to Egypt and India and Rome itself. He has fought pirates, space aliens and, in Asterix and the Missing Scroll, the redactions and obfuscations of a censorship state. He is fun for kids and clever for adults, as well as the other way around. In some ways, the Asterix books pre-empted Pixar: they are Disney, especially in look, but with a sharper edge.

Generally, its punches are delicate enough to be counted as playful. The Brits boil all their food and drink warm beer. The Spanish take any opportunity to dance and writhe. And the Gauls, for all their heroism, can be pig-headed and prone to bickering. This is Goscinny and Uderzo’s version of the United Nations, and it has only one membership condition: laugh at yourself as you laugh at others. Even Germany has signed up. No other country, outside of France, buys Asterix books in greater quantity.

Few do more to keep these nations together than the translators who ensure that Asterix is published in languages other than its original French. It’s a tricky task. Much of the humour is based on puns, which don’t travel well across foreign borders. The only solution is to tailor each book for different countries. The druid who is called “Panoramix” in France, in allusion to the expansive effects of his potions, becomes “Getafix” in Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge’s English translation. Over three dozen volumes, Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, were credited with producing translations that not only maintained the series’ high concentration of puns per panel, but in some cases improved on the original.

Anthea Bell in 2013. “Translators,” she said, “are in the business of spinning an illusion: the illusion that the reader is reading not a translation, but the real thing.”

Asterix and Obelix are completely uninhibited about celebrating the slapstick and over-the-top tomfoolery — and even the occasional gratuitous violence. With Asterix and Obelix, even the biff-bang fight sequences evoke laughter rather more than anxiety. And they know how to party. Just like little bears 🙂

The first comic, Asterix the Gaul, introduces all the basic concepts of the series – the Gauls’ magic potion, the Romans’ perpetual frustration with them, and the core cast. Most notably, Asterix himself, his best friend, Obelix, and the druid Panoramix.

Panoramix / Getafix

The year is 50 B.C. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium…

The premise of the comic is just what the blurb above encapsulates – every book begins with it. Gaul had been conquered by Rome, but one village still resists. The brave Gauls can fight off the might of the Roman Republic (not yet empire at this point, at least technically) with the aid of a magic potion. The drink that their druid Panoramix prepares grants superhuman strength. With it, the Gauls easily outmatch the long-suffering Roman legionnaires stationed in the surrounding camps.

This was the setup that Goscinny, the writer, and Uderzo, the illustrator, came up with in 1959. It’s a setup that withstood Goscinny’s death in 1977, when Uderzo took over the typing duties, and it has since survived Uderzo’s retirement in 2009, when the all-new team of writer Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad took over. When it was released in 2013, their first book, Asterix and the Picts, was the first Asterix comic book to be released in eight years.

Writer Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad

The 35th instalment in the French comic series, which took Asterix and Obelix on a new adventure to ancient Scotland for the first time, was released in 15 countries and 23 languages and dialects, including Scots and Gaelic.

The second book by the new team of Ferri and Conrad, and the 36th instalment in the series, Asterix and the Missing Scroll, brought a new twist – the first direct satirical take on a specific real-life incident with a journalist named Confoundtheirpolitix, inspired by Julian Assange. Confoundtheirpolitix plays a major role in the story when a whistle-blower named Bigdatha (an allusion to Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning) passes secret info that could “make the Roman Empire tremble”. So, it’s propaganda and data leaks, Asterix-style. The postscript features a nice tip of the hat to the original creators, Goscinny and Uderzo.

For some, continuing Asterix after Goscinny’s death and Uderzo’s retirement is looked on with the same horror as a wax-faced Axl Rose fronting AC/DC. For others, it’s given the series the kick start to the heart it desperately needed, especially after the ridiculous flying carpet in Asterix and the Magic Carpet (1987) and, worse, extra-terrestrials in Asterix and the Falling Sky (2005).

After the death of René Goscinny in 1977, Albert Uderzo continued the adventures alone for more than 35 years, taking care of both the drawing and the writing, with increasingly mixed results. His best effort was Asterix and Son (the 27th book in the series), which sees Asterix and Obelix having a deal with a baby who imbibes the Gauls’ magic potion and creates seven levels of chaos. It turns out the baby is Cleopatra and Caesar’s son (Ptolemy XV Caesarion), sent by Cleopatra to the Gauls village for protection from Brutus.

The last book that Uderzo wrote and illustrated, Asterix and the Falling Sky, was done in tribute to his artistic inspiration, Walt Disney. Yet it also featured a race of superclones, patterned on Superman, whose leader is called “Hubs,” an anagram of “Bush”. It’s hard to know whether this was meant as a love letter or a hatchet job.

In 2013, after more than 70 years of drawing, he decided to stop and transmit the creation of Asterix albums to Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad.

In 2017, a signed original illustration for an early Asterix comic book cover sold for more than €1.4 million. The record sum was more than seven times the expected price.

The drawing for the 1964 comic Asterix and the Banquet (Le Tour de Gaule in French) was signed by the creators of the series, Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny, with a dedication to Pierre Tchernia, a prominent French cinema and TV producer nicknamed “Monsieur Cinéma”, who died in 2016. Parts of his collection of art and drawings are now being sold. Another cover illustration for Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield went for €1.2 million, also far higher than predicted.

Asterix and the Banquet recounts the travels of Asterix and Obelix as they travel around France sampling local delicacies and wines. Hmm…

Time to watch Asterix at the Olympic Games. Alain Delon plays Caesar!

Alain Delon as Caesar in Asterix at the Olympic Games

Sculptures by the Sea

Cairn
by Alessandra Rossi, Italy/WA
Cairn
by Alessandra Rossi, Italy/WA
Cairn
by Alessandra Rossi, Italy/WA
Entwined
by Ben Fasham, VIC

Rolling the earth
by Tae-Geun Yang, South Korea
Rolling the earth
by Tae-Geun Yang, South Korea
Rolling the earth
by Tae-Geun Yang, South Korea
Rolling the earth
by Tae-Geun Yang, South Korea
Life Support
by Karl Meyer, SA

Estripagecs
by Pere Moles, Andorra
Celest
by David Ball, NSW
Thoughts of Pinocchio
by Bongsoo Kim, South Korea
She sells sea shells
by Anne Neil, WA
Sky is the limit
by Evi Savvaidi, Greece
Shifting horizons
by April Pine, England/WA
Circle – “Yakibame” (shrink fit)
by Tetsuro Yamasaki, Japan
Women in bronze
by Sonia Payes, VIC

Happy Pi Day

Yay, it’s Pi Day!

Yay, it’s pie day! 🙂

While little bears are enjoying their pizza and pie, here are some facts and weird things about pi.

1. The symbol for Pi has been in use for over 250 years. The symbol was introduced by William Jones (1675-1749), an Anglo-Welsh philologist in 1706 and made popular by the mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783).

2. Since the exact value of pi can never be calculated, we can never find the accurate area or circumference of a circle.

3. March 14 or 3/14 is celebrated as pi day because of the first 3.14 are the first digits of pi. Many math nerds around the world love celebrating this infinitely long, never-ending number.

4. The record for reciting the most number of decimal places of Pi was achieved by Rajveer Meena at VIT University, Vellore, India on 21 March 2015. He was able to recite 70,000 decimal places. To maintain the sanctity of the record, Rajveer wore a blindfold throughout the duration of his recall, which took an astonishing 10 hours!

5. If you aren’t a math geek, you would be surprised to know that we can’t find the true value of pi. This is because it is an irrational number. But this makes it an interesting number as mathematicians can express π as sequences and algorithms.

6. Pi is just another weird mathematical number. It is a part of Egyptian mythology. People in Egypt believed that the pyramids of Giza were built on the principles of pi. The vertical height of the pyramids have the same relationship with the perimeter of their base as is the relationship between a circle’s radius and its circumference. The pyramids are phenomenal structures in themselves being one of the seven wonders of the world and attract tourists. So having π as the core principle makes it really special for architects.

7. Although Pi day is celebrated on March 14 (3/14), the exact time for celebration is 1:59 pm so that the exact number 3.14159 can be reached.

8. Physicist Larry Shaw started 14 March as Pi day at San Francisco’s Exploratorium in 1988. There he is known as the Prince of Pi.

9. There is an entire language made on the number Pi. But how is that possible? Well, some people love pi enough to invent a dialect in which the number of letters in the successive words are the same as the digits of pi. But it is not just another nerd quirk that nobody knows about. Mike Keith wrote an entire book, called Not a Wake in this language.

10. There are many records that show that pi was discovered a long time ago in the The Babylonians knew of pi approximately 4000 years ago. Evidence shows that Babylonians calculated pi as 3.125.

11. There is an interesting reason why the name ‘pi’ was coined. Before the name pi came, mathematicians had to say a mouthful. The only descriptive phrase they could use was “the quantity which when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference”. Pi was named pi by William Jones (1675-1749), a not-so-popular mathematician.

12. The number of digits in the number pi is a phenomenon in itself. Humans can never find all the digits of number pi because of its very definition. Babylonian civilisation used the fraction 3 ⅛, the Chinese used the integer 3. By 1665, Isaac Newton (1643-1727) calculated pi to 16 decimal places. This was before the computers were invented, so determining 16 digits was a big deal. It was in the early 1700s that Thomas Lagney (1660-1734) calculated 127 decimal places of pi reaching a new record. In the second half of the twentieth century, the number of digits of pi increased from about 2000 to 500,000 on the CDC 600. But this record was broken to a whole new level in 2017 when a Swiss scientist computed more than 22 trillion digits of pi which took more than a hundred days.

13. Pi is considered divine. No, not in the literal sense. The number is ‘transcendental’ in mathematical terms. A mathematician, Johann Lambert (1728-1777), gave proof that pi is irrational by giving the tangent of x using continued fraction.

14. Usefulness of pi has been a matter of debate although it is loved by a lot of math lovers. Some believe that tau (which amounts to 2π) is a better suited and intuitive irrational number. For instance, you can multiply tau with radius and calculate the circumference of a circle more intuitively. Tau/4 also represents the angle of a quarter of a circle. Hence its intuitiveness makes it more appealing to some math enthusiasts.

15. In the Exploratorium science museum, a circular parade happens every year on pi day. Each person participating holds one of the digits in the number pi. It wasn’t celebrated around the United States like it is done now until the Congress passed Resolution 224. The purpose of celebrating Pi day was to cultivate a higher level of enthusiasm for math and science.

16. In Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, scientists manage to dig deep into the mystery of the number pi to uncover the hidden messages from the creator of the human race. This new wisdom is capable of bringing depth to our consciousness.

17. The film Pi: Finding Faith in Chaos depicts the efforts of the protagonist in searching for answers about pi and, in turn, the universe. This search drives him nuts. But the good part is that this movie won the Director’s Award at the Sundance film festival.

18. A crop circle was found in 2008 that showed a coded image containing the first ten digits of pi.

19. The calculation of pi is a stress test for a computer. It works just like a digital cardiogram since it indicates the level of activity within the computer’s processor.

20. Givenchy sells a men’s cologne with the name ‘Pi’. The company markets this product as capable of enhancing sexual appeal of intelligent and visionary men.

21. The number Pi is not just an important part of conversations among mathematicians or students. In the famous O.J. Simpson trial, the defence attorney and FBI agent’s argument revolved around the value of pi. This argument over pi showed that the FBI agent’s findings in the case weren’t accurate because he used pi inaccurately.

22. The number pi was so mysterious that a Dutch-German mathematician, Ludolph van Ceulen (1540-1610), spent most of his life calculating the first 36 digits of pi. It is said that the first 36 numbers were engraved on his tombstone, which is now lost.

23. William Shanks (1812-1882), a British mathematician, worked manually to find the digits of pi. He spent many years trying to calculate the pi digits by hand and found the first 707 digits. Unfortunately, the 527th digit he found was wrong, which made his efforts of finding the remaining digits useless because they were all wrong by default.

24. Pi has a sacred bond with the circle. A circle’s angle spans 360 degrees around its centre and it is a coincidence that the number 360 is at the 359th digit position of pi.

25. In the year 1888, an Indiana country doctor claimed that he learnt the exact measure of a circle through supernatural means. He believed in his “supernatural” knowledge so much that he filed a proposal to pass a bill in the Indiana legislature so that he could copyright his genius findings. However, there was a math professor in the legislature who showed the fellow how his proposed bill will result in a wrong value of pi.

26. Even comedians use pi to make people crack at their jokes. John Evans, a comedian, once said in his performances, “What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o’-lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin π.”

27. The number pi is literally infinitely long. But the number 123456 doesn’t appear anywhere in the first million digits of pi. It is a bit shocking because if a million digits of pi don’t have the sequence 124356, it definitely is the most unique number.

28. Why are we so obsessed about pi? Because we are looking for a pattern. Human beings love to find analogies and patterns in everything. And the number pi is so long and mysterious that mathematicians love to find patterns in this number.

29. Chinese people were far ahead of the West in finding the digits of pi. Why? As many mathematicians believe, the Chinese language is more conducive to mathematical computations. Chinese mathematicians were ahead in the pi game because of two reasons: they had decimal notations and they had a symbol for the number zero. It wasn’t until the late middle ages that European mathematicians started using the number zero. At that time, European mathematicians partnered with Arab and Indian minds to bring the symbol of zero into their system.

30. The usage of pi has evolved over the years. Before 17th century, pi was only used for circles. But in the 17th century, people realised that pi can be used to calculate areas of other curves including arches and hypocycloids. In the 20th century, pi was used for a wide set of applications in areas such as probability and various mathematical theories.

31. Many mathematicians believe that it is more accurate to say that a circle has infinite corners than it is to say that it has none. It is only reasonable to assume that this “infinite” number of corners correlates to the infinite number of digits of pi.

32. The number pi is hard to calculate but is super effective when you use it to calculate other things. For instance, if you round the number pi to just 9 digits after the decimal and use it to calculate earth’s circumference, the results would be amazingly accurate. For every 25,000 miles, the number pi will only err to 1/4th of an inch.

33. Pi is so amazing and “mysterious” that it has been used in mysterious situations in movies. In the 1996 thriller movie Torn Curtain, Pi is the secret code.

34. People are forever going crazy about calculating the most number of digits of pi. It is like a competition that never ends. In the year 2010, a Japanese engineer and an American computer wizard broke the record for the most number of pi digits by calculating up to 5 trillion digits. The amazing part is that they didn’t use any supercomputers. They just used desktop computers, 20 external hard disks and their brilliant minds.

35. There is a Stark Trek episode called Wolf in the Fold in which Spock thwarts the evil computer by challenging it to compute to the last digit of pi. It is amazing how no evil movie character can do anything about the number pi.

36. The Greek letter π is the first letter of the word periphery and perimeter. And as we all know, pi is the ratio of a circle’s “periphery” to its diameter.

37. Albert Einstein was born on Pi day in 1879 and Stephen Hawking died on Pi day 2018. And they both played poker with Data in the episode The Descent (part 1) 🙂

38. In the ancient times, mathematicians used a unique method to calculate pi. They would add more and more sides to a polygon so that its area approached the area of a circle. Archimedes, the most famous Greek mathematician and inventor, used a polygon with 96 sides. Many other mathematicians also used this polygon-method to compute the infinitely long number pi. In China, a mathematician used about 200 and then over 3,000 sides in a polygon to arrive at the value 3.14159. Some other used about 25,000 sides to calculate pi. It is quite clear how obsessed the mathematicians were with the number pi.

The only obsession here is with pie 🙂

This is pie I haven’t eaten yet!

Mischief at the Theatre

Little Honey and Isabelle are at the theatre for a masterclass in mayhem. As if they need help with creating mayhem! 🙂

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is at it again, trying to put on another show. We last saw them in 2017 with their attempt at the 1920s murder mystery The Murder at Haversham Manor. That didn’t go well at all, indeed it was the play that went wrong 🙂

James Marlowe and Luke Joslin in The Play That Goes Wrong

The set kept falling apart in magical and dangerous ways… And the Cornley players are not the brightest or most experienced group of thespians, so their solutions to the mounting problems resulted in even greater problems! They’re not fast learners either. There is nothing about a Christmas show that they can’t make worse 🙂

So now Robert Grove (Luke Joslin), the pompous director-in-waiting; Trevor Watson (Adam Dunn), the burly, besieged Stage Manager; Dennis Tyde (George Kemp), the world’s worst actor who still can’t remember his lines; Annie Twilloil (Tammie Weller); Jonathan Harris (Darcy Brown); Sandra Wilkinson (Francine Cain); Max Bennett (Jordan Prosser) are back with a new production of Peter Pan. You’d have thought they would have had enough first time around. And they have talked even more people into joining the world’s most incompetent theatre company in existence!

Add a teddy bear on stage and mayhem is guaranteed! 🙂

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is a fictitious amateur theatre company, the brainchild of Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and Henry Lewis of Mischief Theatre. The trio met while students of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and, after several years of working in comedy together, the writing team delivered their first piece in 2012: The Play That Goes Wrong. This became an international hit and is still running on the West End and Broadway. Their follow-up piece, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, opened in 2014, and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery opened in 2016.

Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and Henry Lewis

Peter Pan Goes Wrong brings all the right moves in a festive romp of fun and mishap. Once Upon A Time has ruined Peter Pan for us, so it’s a good thing that this brilliantly written and directed production has little to do with the iconic character and everything to do with an intricately cohesive ensemble cast delivering unexpected laughs and mayhem.

Jordan Prosser as Max Bennett as Michael Darling; George Kemp as Dennis Tyde as John Darling; Francine Cain as Sandra Wilkinson as Wendy Darling; Tammy Weller as Annie Twilloil as Mary Darling

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a trifecta of clever writing, intricate directing and talented actors who cleverly play off their audience. In many ways, it is an actor’s play, showcasing all the havoc and melodrama associated with a play — both on and off stage. Adam Meggido’s direction takes physical comedy to its limits, reinvigorating traditional slapstick. You know the actors are going to slip on the proverbial banana peel, but the gag still finds a way to surprise. One does wonder whether the actors have life insurance!

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is short of actors (again!) so some actors take on multiple roles. Luke Joslin as Robert Grove plays several characters including Nana the Dog, Starkey the Pirate and, most notably, as Peter’s Shadow, highlighting his talent for interpretive dance in a “sexy” black unitard 🙂

Jay Laga’aia as Francis Beaumont as Cecco the Pirate; Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Starkey the Pirate; Connor Crawford as Chris Bean as Captain Hook
Darcy Brown as Jonathan Harris as Peter Pan and Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Shadow

Tammy Weller as Annie Twilloil features her versatility in multiple roles including a mute Tinkerbell, a confused Tiger Lily, a maternal Mrs. Darling, and Lisa the Maid with more costume changes than one would have thought humanly possible.

Tammy Weller as Annie Twilloil as Tinkerbell

Conner Crawford as Chris Bean in the roles of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling shows he has impeccable timing as a comedic actor.

Connor Crawford as Chris Bean as Captain Hook

The revolving set is a death-trap which barely survives the show, as furniture collapses, pieces fall off, doors jam, and actors find themselves mercilessly exposed trying to make magic among the mayhem, colliding mid-air in mal-functioning flying harnesses or dodging falling stage props. The play culminates at the end of Act 2 with more bodies than in the last act of Hamlet and a rotating set delivering choreographed chaos at a level of perfection rarely seen on stage. The challenge of successfully executing such organised pandemonium is a testament to the skill of cast and crew. It requires bundles of energy to sustain this kind of frolic without flagging and the cast possesses them in abundance.

Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Starkey the Pirate; Jordan Prosser as Max Bennett as Michael Darling; George Kemp as Dennis Tyde as John Darling; Adam Dunn as Trevor Watson the Stage Manager; Jay Laga’aia as Francis Beaumont as Cecco the Pirate
Front row: Tammy Weller as Annie Twilloil as Tinkerbell; Francine Cain as Sandra Wilkinson as Wendy Darling; Jessie Yates as Grace Ofcharles, assistant stage manager; Teagan Wouters as Lucy Grove as Toothless
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Everybody survived Peter Pan Goes Wrong!

The Play that Goes Wrong was one of the surprise West End hits of recent years. The Wrong-uns of the fictitious and delightfully shambolic Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have decided there is nothing about a Christmas show that they can’t make worse, delivering complete theatrical mayhem from beginning to end.

The Play That Goes Wrong is the Tom and Jerry of British farce, slapping you silly with mishaps and pratfalls. Watching the play-within-a-play’s troupe of amateur actors trying to perform a murder mystery is like watching a roomful of hapless carpenters hammering their own thumbs, then watching the cabinets crash on their heads.

Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Thomas Colleymore; George Kemp as Dennis Tyde as Perkins; Nick Simpson-Deeks as Chris Bean as Inspector Carter; James Marlowe as Max Bennett as Cecil Haversham

It is a show in which, you know, things go wrong. Because that’s all that happens; the show seems less written than engineered. You get exactly what the title ­promises — botched lines, toxic props, doors that don’t open or that suddenly come unstuck and break an actor’s nose. To say that the set gets into the act is an understatement; the misbuilt contraption of an English manor gives a spectacular performance!

Sound and lighting technician Trevor Watson, played by Andrew Dunn, is positioned in one of the boxes where the audience had a bird’s eye view of his incompetence which usually consisted of forgetting to play a sound effect, playing the wrong music, or upstaging the performers 🙂

All of the actors did a magnificent job – their energy levels were second to none and their comic timing was nothing short of brilliant. One would hate to see the number of bruises the actors had amassed by the end of each performance!

In what is likely the most well-known scene of The Play That Goes Wrong – Brooke Satchwell’s character Sandra is knocked out cold by a door that is thrown suddenly open. Her fellow actors then try to ‘subtly’ drag her through a set window and out of sight, leaving Satchwell giving an incredibly convincing performance of a rag doll! As a result of Sandra being otherwise engaged, a member of the backstage crew Annie, played by Tammy Weller, finds herself cast into the limelight understudying the role of Sandra.

Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Thomas Colleymore; Adam Dunn as Trevor Watson, Lighting & Sound Operator; Tammy Weller as Annie Twilloil, the Stage Manager and understudy; Darcy Browne as Jonathan Harris as Charles Haversham; Brooke Satchwell as Sandra Wilkinson as Florence Colleymoore
Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Thomas Colleymore; Darcy Browne as Jonathan Harris as Charles Haversham; Brooke Satchwell as Sandra Wilkinson as Florence Colleymoore; Nick Simpson-Deeks as Chris Bean as Inspector Carter

At first Annie is uncomfortable with the limelight but soon warms up. When the real Sandra regains consciousness and attempts to take back her role Annie becomes almost blood-thirsty for the limelight. There is no doubt that the acrobatic tussle that builds to a crescendo between Satchwell and Weller, steals the show.

Nick Simpson-Deeks as Chris Bean as Inspector Carter and Brooke Satchwell as Sandra Wilkinson as Florence Colleymoore
Nick Simpson-Deeks as Chris Bean as Inspector Carter; George Kemp as Dennis Tyde as Perkins; Luke Joslin as Robert Grove as Thomas Colleymore; James Marlowe as Max Bennett as Cecil Haversham; Darcy Browne as Jonathan Harris as Charles Haversham; Brooke Satchwell as Sandra Wilkinson as Florence Colleymoore
The Play that Goes Wrong

A thoroughly hilarious and enjoyable performance. As physical comedy, it’s Olympics-grade, and the two hours go at a perpetual sprint.

The Amazing Artistry of Shaun Tan

Hours to Sunset and Sculpture Garden
UWA Crawley Campus

With the UWA Club opening in 2005, there was a large west-facing on campus begging for a sundial to be created!

Susan Marie, then Director of UWA Extension, had worked with Shaun Tan at Subiaco Library in 2002.

The Tea Party, by Shaun Tan, 2002
Acrylics, oil, collage
Subiaco Library

Shaun’s concept was that the large T-shaped area in the children’s section of the library would depict a flowing landscape with whimsical creatures strolling, swimming, flying and rowing through it, some having conversations and reading books, others breathing fire and stormy oceans, with many drinking cups of tea, made by towering tea pots. Hence the title The Tea Party which nods towards Lewis Carroll, as well as being an alternative, or extended version, of the strange world that was briefly glimpsed in his picture book The Lost Thing.

The entire project took about 3 months, painted using acrylic and oils with some collage of printed materials, fabric, coloured paper and gold leaf. Shaun painted the work in parts, in his backyard, relying heavily on detailed sketches to ensure continuity between the different parts. Once the work was installed in the library, he spent a week on a large ladder joining everything up as a fluid composition.

The Tea Party, by Shaun Tan, 2002, detail
Acrylics, oil, collage
Subiaco Library

On the other side of the wall, at Subiaco Library, is Shaun’s painting The 100 Year Picnic.

The 100 Year Picnic, by Shaun Tan, 2002
Mixed media – collage, acrylic, oils
Subiaco Library

The painting is based on a photograph from the early 1900s, found in the archives of the Subiaco Museum: a group portrait of Subiaco men, women and children (largely anonymous) enjoying a picnic. While the photograph was the main basis for the painted image, it is not reproduced with documentary accuracy – it is a point of departure, rather than a reference, for an imaginary painting. Elements were edited and transformed, abstracted and stylised to some extent and colour used lyrically to create a certain mood.

Photograph from the early 1900s, featuring a group portrait of Subiaco men, women and children (largely anonymous) enjoying a picnic.

It would be another eight years before Hours to Sunset, the sundial on the west-facing wall of the Club would come into being. The design casts the sun as an all-seeing bird, with luminous representations of the sky and heavenly bodies recalling the medieval Book of Hours.

Hours to Sunset, 2013

This type of digitised mosaic image is new and has only become commercially available relatively recently. The mosaic suppliers Bisazza have combined their art selection of premium glass mosaic tiles with mathematical accuracy to translate the beautiful Shaun Tan painting into a mosaic masterpiece.

The image was scanned and reproduced as a pixilated map. Colours were then selected in collaboration with the Bisazza artistic team in Italy and Shaun Tan. These were used to establish 375 sheets of images containing 900 individual tesserae to make up the whole picture.

Artisan tiler Iain H. Middleton from V-vo Architectural Mosaics, with Ankit Gakhar, Darren Hay and Brody Osborne formed the core team for the actual creation of the mosaic. Their job was to ‘stitch’ together an image that is delivered chopped up, by using a technique that appears invisible, yet brings out the true character of this type of glass, its brightness, colour and shape. This then allows the artist’s work to speak to the viewer, not the mechanical interpretation of it.

There are 725 seams in this mosaic, which equate to over 227 meters. To make the work look seamless, a special translucent epoxy grout was incorporated to enhance the image and add robustness and longevity to the piece.

The final unveiling took place on 22 January 2013 and the sundial was officially launched on 8 February 2013, for UWA’s Centenary year.

A sundial indicates time by measuring the angle of the sun in the sky, which moves by 15 degrees each hour. Normally we measure time relative to midday, the time when the sun is highest in the sky. This sundial is different, as it measures time relative to sunset and indicates how many hours of daylight remain in the day.

The sundial is mounted vertically on a wall facing west. A gnomon, projecting horizontally from the top centre point of the sundial, casts a shadow on the wall. During the afternoon the tip of the gnomon’s shadow will move from the bottom of the wall up to the top until, at sunset, it is level with the gnomon. The left-hand curve of the sundial’s markings plots the path of the Sun’s shadow during the summer solstice, the middle line is the path during the equinox, and the curve on the right shows its path at the winter solstice. The hour lines are angled to account for the different length of day between summer and winter.

This way of measuring time is related to ‘Italian Hours’ whereby hours are measured relative to the last sunset. This was commonly used in parts of Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries. You always knew how much time you had left to get your day’s work done before sunset.

Beneath the sundial is a sculpture garden which Shaun designed in collaboration with Susan Marie and landscape architect Helen Whitbread, with a cluster of mosaicked organic shapes and espaliered mandarin trees, nestling in beds of white stones and gravel amidst an imposing setting of stern sandstone.

Shaun wanted to create a friendly and accessible installation and would invite people to move around, to touch and feel the garden elements.

Sitting is touching, isn’t it?

Once more it was over to artisan Iain Middleton, this time for the more difficult task of covering smooth, rounded surfaces with flat, rigid glass tiles.

The freeform shapes at one end evoke big smooth river stones, all three superbly cloaked in the same Venetian glass tiles that make up the sundial. Off to the other side, a gleaming golden egg sits alone at the other end of the small courtyard. Shaun said the golden egg has a suggestion of wisdom, which relates to the University setting.

Shaun described the design as a response to the spare and angular sandstone forms of the site, in which he wanted elements to break the tension of those lines with simple curved organic forms.

“The design also needed to relate to the large sundial above … the vertical image carries a sense of air, light and celestial objects; something on the ground needed to be about the earth, solid mass and gravity,” he wrote.

Shaun Tan, the son of a Malaysian-Chinese father and an Anglo-Irish mother, is a multi-award winning artist and writer who was born in Perth and now lives and works in Melbourne.

As a child growing up in Perth, Shaun enjoyed reading, writing and illustrating poems and stories; and spent a lot of time drawing dinosaurs, robots and space ships. He was impressed by a book of horror poems called The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated “in these creepy but also amusing pen and ink drawings by Arnold Lobel. I can still recall the images quite vividly, and borrowed that book many times from the library.” He was attracted by anything about monsters, outer space or robots. He also remembers Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick which he still admires as an adult as an ideal picture book experiment – a whole series of fragmentary sentences and singular strange drawings never fully explained. He also liked Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs, but only discovered many of his other books (and acknowledges their influence) as an adult. Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl were also ‘favourites’.

Some of his earliest works appeared in science fiction magazines (including Eidolon and Interzone) where he illustrated the work of authors such as Greg Egan, Karen Attard, Sean Williams, and Leanne Frahm.

In 1992, he won the International Illustrators of the Future Contest, the first Australian to achieve this award. His unique style translates well into film, and Shaun Tan provided concept artwork for the movie WALL-E. He also wrote and directed the short film The Lost Thing, from his book of the same name. The Lost Thing won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In the same year, he received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a prestigious international prize for children’s and young adult literature.

His work has won or been nominated for nearly 100 awards. His international awards include Locus Awards, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Hugo Awards, and a World Fantasy Award. In Australia, his work has repeatedly won Ditmar and Aurealis Awards, as well as Premier’s Awards across the country, multiple Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, and more.

There aren’t many artists who have the ability to both write and illustrate their own work; but Shaun Tan is an exception. His books include The Playground (1997), The Lost Thing (2000), The Red Tree (2001), The Arrival (2006), Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008), The Bird King and other sketches (2011), The Oopsatoreum: inventions of Henry A. Mintox, with the Powerhouse Museum (2012), Rules of Summer (2013), Cicada (2018), Tales from the Inner City (2018). One of his early picture books, The Rabbits, with words by John Marsden, is now an opera.

Cicada is the subject of an exhibition at the State Library of WA.

Cicada exhibition at the State Library of WA

It is an exhibition of his original artwork and creative process, including a small sculpture of Cicada. Dramatic oil paintings are displayed along with sketches and photographs to provide a window into the making of this picture book.

Cicada exhibition at the State Library of WA

In the picture book, Shaun Tan explores the ponderous themes of migrant workers and workplace bullying through the voice of a hardworking insect who has toiled away, unappreciated and without promotion, alongside humans in a grey office block for 17 years.

Cicada is the story of a scorned insect who works in a sterile office with hostile coworkers. With shadowy illustrations and sparse narration, it examines workplace bullying in a story that is ‘for anyone who has ever felt unappreciated, overlooked or overworked’.
Cicada exhibition at State Library of WA
Tan says the character of the cicada reminds him of his own father, Bing, who moved to Australia from Malaysia to study when he was in his early 20s. He was hardworking but had poor English, the author says. ‘[He] was an architect who worked in a few different offices throughout his life. I often got the impression that his skills were underappreciated in some of these places.’

For Cicada, Tan researched the life cycle of cicadas, which can spend more than a decade underground before shedding their exoskeletons and revealing new wings. There are clear parallels between the life cycle of the cicada and Tan’s story of corporate drudgery. But the author says the meaning of his book is unclear, even to him. It’s an ambiguity he actively strives for.

While Cicada is a picture book, it’s not necessarily written for an audience of children. It talks about things that adults understand — data entry, and human resources departments — and it’s almost completely devoid of colour.

The story is told in monochromatic shades of green and grey for the majority of its 32 pages — familiar territory for Tan, whose book The Arrival was illustrated solely in sepia tones.

‘Belonging’ is a recurring theme in Tan’s work. In Cicada, the protagonist is a data entry clerk who works tirelessly for 17 years alongside humans who never accept him. ‘A lot of my stories are about animals invading human spaces,’ Tan told the Australian. ‘I think it serves as a sort of distorted mirror for ourselves, making us step outside of the narcissistic self-absorption of our species.’
In creating the character of the cicada, Tan says he felt compelled to show ‘the overlooked aspects of ordinary life, almost to try and redress some imbalance in the way that we look at things. To counteract some of those views of the world that might be fairly destructive, even though they may be mainstream and accepted’.
A model (left) and painting (right) of the central character living in the ‘office wallspace’. Tan describes the creation process thus: ‘I made a sculpture of the central cicada character with moveable limbs – basically an action figure – and built simple miniature office spaces out of paper and board. I could then arrange and light these elements on a table top, photograph them, and use the resulting images as “sketches” for both structuring the story and as reference for final paintings. In some cases, the finished illustrations are nearly identical to the photographs.’
Tan made models of the characters and scenes, which he subsequently photographed and then painted. This is an early sculpture of the office-bound protagonist.
The cicada morphs into his insect form in this clay sculpture created by the artist.
The storyboarding for Cicada. Tan says the book was initially much longer, but he pared it back to generate ‘mystery’, creating what he says is the ‘simplest’ book he’s ever done.

Little Puffles and Jay went exploring behind the scenes at the library.

State Library pictorial stack on the third floor

They discovered The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan’s interpretation of 75 fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.

The Singing Bones, by Shaun Tan

His sculpted figures, inspired by ancient carvings and figurines, evince each tale. Many of them are squat and elemental, as though evolved from earth, rock or clay. Many have the pointed or rounded shapes identifiable as his unique style. They are constructed from papier-mache and clay, some with wire, paper, string, nails or gold leaf. The clay has been carved and painted with acrylics, oxidised metal powder and even shoe polish. Some surfaces look bronzed. Other sculptures feature some of Tan’s signature colours of red and orange.

Shaun Tan has sold most of the sculptures, keeping only keeping only Hans My Hedgehog and Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house.

In The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan reimagines the Brothers Grimm fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel with small, hauntingly macabre sculptures.
Hans My Hedgehog

The State Library owns two of the sculpted figures, Little Brother and Little Sister and Little Red Riding Hood.

Sculpted figures from The Singing Bones, by Shaun Tan
Little Brother and Little Sister (L)
Little Red Riding Hood (R)
Economical with materials and words, Tan’s take on Little Red Riding Hood condenses it to a conversation between the girl and the wolf

Rules of Summer is a predominantly visual and unnerving exploration of what two boys learnt one summer.

Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan

Rules of Summer is a collection of 26 oil paintings, vignettes loosely tethered to an instructional narrative; a set of seemingly arbitrary directives intended to help a young boy understand his vast, capricious world and his place in it: A Rough Guide to Terror Incognita – “Never drop your jar”, “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline”, “Never leave the back door open overnight”, “Always bring bolt cutters”, or “Always know the way home”. Almost all vignettes feature two brothers (one a couple of years older than the other) and a raven.

We must find a jar so we don’t drop it!

True to its fairy tale form, the younger boy’s rites of passage grow progressively darker when his older, know-all brother takes things too far and their one-sided relationship erupts in violence, estrangement and eventually reconciliation … at least until next summer.

As with Tan’s other books, nothing is what it seems and the path to enlightenment is rarely straightforward. The hapless newcomer unwittingly breaks every rule, triggering absurd repercussions: being stalked by a monstrous hare for leaving a red sock on a clothes line, intimidated by a party of formally dressed falcons for taking the last olive, invaded by a primordial back yard for having left a door open overnight, threatened by a tornado for stepping on a snail and thwarted from entering paradise without a password.

Never step on a snail

Rules of Summer enables Tan to indulge in his first love, oil painting, which brings a lush, palpable sense of place to his imaginary landscapes. The vibrant palette and broad canvasses capture the immense skies and parched flatlands of his childhood in suburban Perth and the secret laneways of his present inner-city Melbourne home, with detours through Manhattan, Tuscany and Mordor. It’s a sweeping perspective that similarly informs his visual style.

The Cicada exhibition is on at the State Library of WA until Wednesday 24 April. If you are beary lucky, you might be able to go behind the scenes.

Magical Pink Elephants

Little Honey and Isabelle have heard of a place with magical pink elephants, and as you know, everything is better pink!

There they are!

The pink elephants, with a giant spider, and fire-breathing dragons and all manner of weird and wonderful creatures are part of The Magic Flute, a co-production between British theatre group »1927« and Komische Oper Berlin.

A handsome prince finds himself in the belly of a glowering dragon.

The Queen of the Night makes her grand entrance as a skeletal spider stalking on eight tall, spindly legs.

Three white face choirboys are lowered in a basket carried by a gigantic moth.

Later, a drunk bird catcher parties with a herd of cartoonish pink elephants who, improbably, twirl parasols and flash their legs in striped tights.

Barrie Kosky had already decided that The Magic Flute was going to be part of his first season for the Komische Oper Berlin (2012), but how to present it?

In 2009, a friend suggested Kosky see 1927’s production Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea — a cabaret show featuring live performers interacting with projections of Paul Barritt’s hand-drawn, silent film-style animation.

Kosky remembers: “Within a few seconds I was entranced, and within ten seconds I thought, ‘This is brilliant. It’s so low-tech, but so fabulous on this little small screen with only two performers’, and then about 30 seconds into the show I thought, ‘These guys have got to do Magic Flute with me’.”

»1927« takes its name from the year of the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, and is known for its ingenious integration of live performance, music and hand drawn, vintage-looking animation, creating a distinctive aesthetic that unites silent film with English music hall.

Kosky had found the collaborators he needed to do justice to Mozart and librettist and producer Emanuel Schikaneder’s vision, a form of theatre which doesn’t really exist anymore. The Magic Flute (or Die Zauberflöte), which premiered in 1791 in Vienna, is a fairytale with mystical overtones, set in a magical kingdom. Almost in every scene there is a dragon, fire, water, stars in the heavens. The opera is an endless series of special effects and this is what the audience expected.

Kosky loves to recount the story of when he approached Paul Barritt (animator & illustrator) and Suzanne Andrade ( writer & performer) to collaborate on a production of The Magic Flute. Their response was: ‘What’s that?’ Kosky thought, ‘This is even better.’ Barritt and Andrade had never been to the opera.

The opera premiered on 25 November 2012 in Berlin, and since then it has travelled to three continents and 22 cities around the world. More than half a million people have seen it. And finally, this week Barrie Kosky’s The Magic Flute had its Australian premiere at the Perth International Arts Festival, before going to Adelaide and Auckland.

The secret to its success seems to have been, in part, that it’s a very un-opera opera: performers who look like they’ve stepped off a Weimar-era film set interact with animated projections, in a complex interaction between two-dimensional (hand-drawn) animation and three-dimensional performances. The original opera is a Singspiel, which means it includes singing and spoken dialogue, but there is no talking in this production. The dialogue is instead sur-titled in the style of text cards from 1920s silent cinema.

Kosky and »1927« wanted the opera to look as if a picture book had come alive, to look as if a silent film had been warped and hallucinated into colour.

The “picture book” includes more than 900 video cues that are triggered alongside the performance of the singers and orchestra. It was complete before rehearsals began, meaning the complex interactions between animation and performer were predetermined. The rehearsals included teaching the singers where they stood and what they were doing. For performers accustomed to more traditional productions, performing in such a prescribed way — let alone interacting with projections — and being directed by someone with no opera experience, was a challenge. As always with something really new, some singers were brilliant and on board from the beginning, but others took a while.

The singers have to interact with the animation with incredible precision, requiring split-second timing. They are positioned on platforms high above the stage, which spin around through special doors, or perform at specific spots the front of the stage, often circled with a spotlight. After so many performances, the timing is perfect, including from the video technicians. No mouse with sticky buttons here!

There are references to many things, but these references are developed and transformed into something else. The cowardly, cheeky, endearing bird-catcher Papageno is modelled after Buster Keaton, and sports a mustard suit and porkpie hat.

Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night who Prince Tamino falls in love with and sets out to rescue from the High Priest Sarastro, looks like Louise Brooks as Lulu in a flapper dress with her famous dark bob haircut.

Monostatos, the manipulative servant of Sarastro, who lusts after the captured Pamina, looks like Nosferatu.

The dashing Prince Tamino, in dinner suit, looks like a movie matinee idol, and the ferocious Queen of the Night has a skeletal human torso and a gigantic spider’s body. The Queen of the Night enlists young prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamino from the “evil” high priest Sarastro — but Tamino ends up being charmed by the priest, and decides to undergo a series of initiation trials to join his order.

The Three Ladies wear 1920s outfits with cloche hats, tailored coats and beads, blowing smoke rings from their cigarettes; Sarastro is a dressed like a sinister Victorian gentleman in top hat, while Papagena is a showgirl.

There is a profusion of butterflies, exploding red hearts, steam-punk cogs and wheels, and mechanical animals in Sarastro’s domain, freaky blinking eyes, and a pink cocktail!! that triggers flying pink elephants when Papageno abandons Sarastro’s fasting trial. The magic flute itself is a naked fairy who leaves a stream of musical notes behind her as she flies around, while the magic bells given to Papageno resemble cut-out paper figures.

The Magic Flute by Komische Oper Berlin, with its blend of film animation and live singers, has caused a sensation, and not just in Berlin. Since its Berlin premiere, six new productions have been mounted at Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Minnesota Opera, Polish National Opera, Finnish National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid while the original Berlin production regular tours across the world. The production has enjoyed consistently positive reviews worldwide, but some critics were not so impressed. You know, the old Wagnerian types!

This is a production of the most-performed German opera which takes your breath away. Bravo!

Following the breath-taking success of The Magic Flute, this year the British theatre group »1927« is returning to the Komische Oper Berlin – with two works which seem almost to have been written for the absolutely boundless imaginations of these image-conjurers and their astonishing combination of animation and live performances by actors … Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortileges and Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka are re-imagined as a heddy mix of circus, animation and a live orchestra.

Little Honey and Isabelle are plotting a trip to Berlin 🙂

Miss Honey’s La Vie En Rose

Happy Birthday to the fabulous Miss Honey! 🙂

Patty – milk chocolate mousse, cherry jelly, strawberry cremeux, chocolate dacquoise with peppermint syrup
Gianduja – chocolate and hazelnut mousse layered between jaconde with a crunchy feuilletine base
Honey in My Heart, from Bites by D
Chocolate mousse, honeycomb, poached strawberry, chocolate sponge with Kirsch syrup

Berry pavlova with strawberry meringue and vanilla mascarpone chantilly, from Wild Bakery
Love is in the air, from Bites by D
Strawberry and rose meringue, vanilla and coconut sponge, strawberry mousse, white chocolate and lemon sponge

Red velvet heart
Very pretty fresh fruit custard tart from Chez Jean-Claude

Mudcake heart
Berry macaron with vanilla mascarpone chantilly, from Wild Bakery
The Rose, from Bites by D
Vanilla Bavarian creme, strawberry and rosewater gelee, lemon mascarpone creme, vanilla shortcrust pastry