Actors Thomas Jones and Nikolai Ribnikov as Ken and SteveThey want to tread the boards, but first comedy theatre troupe Velvet Trumpet must fundraise one step at a time in a bid to finance their next play.
Actors Thomas Jones and Nikolai Ribnikov will be performing in Marlborough on a marathon walk along the A4 from London to Swansea under the personas of an enthusiastic but misguided old man, Ken, and his less eager friend, Steve.
The pair will be undertaking the 200 miles trek – Ken’s Christmas Crusade – in just under a week, in a bid to raise funds for the company's next play, Don’t Disturb the Driver. And they'll be performing, recording and broadcasting comedy sketches along the way.
Don't Disturb the Driver is a comedy set in a Swansea coach station about a young coach driver, Will, who is about to become the UK's youngest driver to reach one million miles of service.
In the play, Will drives the Swansea to London route so Thomas and Nikolai decided to make the same journey.. on foot. Starting in Windsor on December 16, they'll stop in a different town on each consecutive day, including Reading, Marlborough, Chippenham, Bristol, Chepstow, Cardiff and Bridgend, arriving in Swansea on Christmas Eve.
Nikolai told Marlborough News Online the fundraising stunt was necessary in a difficult financial climate.
“The arts are taking a massive financial hit. Those that suffer most are invariably the small independent theatres and companies, ourselves included.
“Does that make us want to stop producing work? No. Does it make us believe any less in what we do? Of course not.
“Money may be in short supply but the creativity of the theatre community certainly isn't,” he said.
To find out more about Velvet Trumpet and Ken’s Christmas Crusade, log on to www.velvettrumpet.co.uk
Work on paper by Breon O'CaseyThe renowned Rabley Drawing Centre, near Marlborough, is throwing open its doors for a sale of artistic Christmas gift ideas until December 18.
The gallery will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm.
Visitors will be able to view the current exhibitions, Night for Day with paintings and prints by Tom Hammick and Significant Ground, glass sculpture by Sally Fawkes.
And there will be unique works of art for sale, with prints and works on paper by Craigie Aitchison, Martyn Brewster, Eileen Cooper RA, Tom Hammick, Sara Lee, Breon O’Casey, Victor Pasmore, Nana Shiomi, Emma Stibbon, and Sandy Sykes, Ceramics by Emily Myers and Joanna Still, and jewellery and silver by Meryl Ainslie and Sheila McDonald.
Prints are available from under £200, and ceramics and silver from £50.
For information and directions, log on to www.rableydrawingcentre.com
Joanna MayThe magical relationship between humans and animals, from Disney to David Attenborough, are celebrated in a new exhibition by Wiltshire artist Joanna May.
The Iconic Animals of London Zoo will be opened at The Savoy hotel in London on Saturday (November 24) by TV wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan.
Animals residing at ZSL London Zoo, beloved to the UK public in their lifetimes, became immortalised in some of the nation's – and indeed the world's - favourite stories, such as Jumbo the elephant, who became Disney's Dumbo, and Winnipeg the bear who became A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
And Joanna, who had a gallery in Marlborough for eleven years and now lives and works at her gallery home in Keevil, has had exclusive permission from Disney to incorporate the images of Dumbo and Winnie-the-Pooh in this work.
Television personality, Michaela Strachan, presenter of BBC1's 2012 Autumnwatch and 2013 Winterwatch, will be introducing the paintings and talking about ZSL London Zoo's conservation and Tiger SOS campaign.
Joanna herself appeared on Springwatch 2006, sketching hares for her now renowned Zodiac Hare series.
Celebrating David Attenborough's sixty years in wildlife television is the painting Zoo Quest, named after the wildlife presenter's first major BBC TV series.
In the first episode of the 1956 series, Attenborough brought Charlie the Orangutan from Borneo to live at London Zoo to start a breeding programme.
The painting shows the inextricable link between the fame of both David Attenborough and the animals he filmed.
Winnie and Christopeher RobinThe Queen features in two paintings: Majesty the Lion and The Queen and the Penguins. Majesty demonstrates the royal iconography of the lion and also the royal endorsement of London Zoo from Queen Victoria to the present Queen. The backdrop of the Union flag taps into national pride after the Jubilee and Olympics.
The Queen and the Penguins shows a carefree Princess Elizabeth enjoying a visit with the king penguins, her destiny and future duty in the shape of her father, George VI, reflected in the enclosure's water as well as in the name of the animals themselves.
Talking about her inspiration for the project, Joanna said: “I have thought about painting the animals of London Zoo for at least 15 years from when I was a children’s wildlife book illustrator in the 1990’s.
“I was inspired by a story of someone who visited the Zoo when he was a boy. He kept an image in his mind close to his heart of the size of his tiny little hand next to a gorilla’s.
“The gorilla reached out towards him and they touched through the meshing and it stayed with him to this day as a truly magical experience. It made me think about the amazing animals that must have been kept there over the years since Victorian times and how they must have touched the hearts of children and adults alike.”
This ape was Guy the gorilla who arrived at London Zoo on Guy Fawkes Night, 1947, hence the name. He became one of the Zoo's most loved animals.
Joanna's collectable style is inspired both by wild animals and by the bold colours of contemporary interior design. The feature colour in Zoo Quest is the orangutan's distinct fur; the king penguins in The Queen and the Penguins pick up the Queen's favourite colour, vibrant yellow, as well as the art deco style in fashion at the time.
Joanna has a long-standing love of zebras, which have been the subjects of her best selling paintings: “I never get bored of the zebra stripes natural pattern and graphic effect,” she says.
Paintings of pandas Ching Ching and Chia Chia, gifted to the UK from China in 1974, are pink bubblegum cartoon bears grown up.
JumboBut the story of zoo animals are not straight forward. There are shadows of ownership and exploitation for animals in captivity.
This can be seen particularly in Jumbo, history's most famous elephant. A super star of London Zoo from 1865 to 1882, he was sold to Barnum & Bailey American Circus because the Zoo secretly could not afford to continually repair his cage after nightly 'musk' rages.
A huge public campaign to keep him ensued, but to no avail. Thousands of people saw Jumbo off on his voyage to America.
Joanna's painting – Jumbo decorated with union flag, stars and stripes, Disney's Dumbo and circus, jumbo jets and jumbo hotdog iconography - demonstrates the elephant's popularity across two continents but also that, ultimately, this naturally wild animal lived a life as both private and public property.
The Iconic Animals of London Zoo exhibits at The Savoy, London on Saturday 24 November, 11am to 11pm. For more information, visit www.joannamay.com