This summer, the UK’s largest international moving company, John Mason International is teaming up with British television’s plasticine icon, Morph, to help raise vital funds to transform the lives of young wheelchair users.
John Mason International are excited to announce we will be sponsoring Morph’s Epic Art Adventure – the UK’s first step-free art trail. From 19 June to 20 August 2023, we will be helping to transform central London when it hosts over 60 super-sized sculptures of much-loved children’s TV character, Morph. Located alongside some of London’s most iconic landmarks, each Morph sculpture will be uniquely designed by epic, well-known and emerging artists, providing a fun family-friendly art trail for locals and visitors to follow.
The event’s 3D sculptures have been inspired by the animated clay character Morph, who has been making mischief and encouraging generations of kids – and adults – to get creative since the 70s. As part of their support John Mason International have their very own Morph, The Pearly King Morph.
Pearly King Morph was inspired by the original Pearly King, Henry Croft. Born in London, in the 19th century, he was an orphan street sweeper that over his lifetime collected a lot of money for charity wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons. He was so well known that there is a statue of him in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, so the artist wanted to give Morph a Pearly King make-over to hit the streets of London and put smiles on people’s faces.
Morph is the animated clay character who made his TV debut in 1977 in the children’s BBC programme Take Hart, alongside the artist and presenter Tony Hart. He was one of Aardman’s first creations and was later joined by his cream-coloured partner-in-crime Chas. Morph was a regular fixture on children’s television throughout the 70s and 80s, and received his own Blue Peter badge on 9th March 1981 when Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene visited the Aardman studios.
In 2013, almost 40 years after his TV debut, Morph made a comeback following a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign. He has a dedicated fan base of nostalgic adult fans and a growing audience of children who follow his adventures on his thriving YouTube channel and on Sky Kids. Most recently Morph and his sidekick Chas have been delighting fans with all-new adventures in ‘The Epic Adventures of Morph’, a longer format series which launched on Sky Kids and NowTV in 2020.
Sandra Russell is a professional artist, painter, illustrator and storyboard artist. She mainly works for London based advertising agencies drawing digital storyboards and animatics, with her partner Steve Johnson, illustrating how an advert will look like before it goes into production. Over the years she has worked for brands as varied as Barclays, Fiat McDonalds and Cola-Cola to Adobe, EE, Ballentine’s and L’Oreal.
She illustrates for magazines, press and websites, and also enjoys painting commissions of pets and people in watercolours and oils, as well as painting landscapes. Having designed and painted many Wild in Art sculptures, from an owl in Ipswich to an 8 foot tall giraffe in Edinburgh, she wanted to get involved with Morph’s Epic Art Adventure London by painting Pearly King Morph and bring a few smiles on commuters, families and tourist’s faces alike. She has also painted Tiger Morph that is appearing on the trail, having previously been painted for Morph in the North. Sandra can’t wait to have her two Morph sculptures bring some fun to the streets of London!
We caught up with Sandra for a quick chat to find out more about her inspiration for Pearly King Morph:
What interested you about painting a Morph and getting involved in the project?
Morph is such an iconic character and I always loved his cheeky and creative personality. And I had been lucky enough to paint a Morph before for Morph on the Tyne in 2022, and really enjoyed how people of all ages were interacting with the sculpture and taking selfies, for example. So when I saw that London was going to be next host for a Morph trail I jumped at the chance. Having worked for many years in London I dearly loved the opportunity of having an artwork of mine bringing a bit of joy and good cheer to all that see it. And most importantly, the ultimate purpose and aim is to raise as much as possible for Whizz-Kidz, the trail’s charity, that supports young wheelchair users.
What inspired you to come up with your design?
Pearly King Morph was inspired by what I thought would make people turn their heads and look twice at Morph, in a city that is used to having tourists and commuters focussed on reaching their destination. And to bringing attention to another King, be it a Pearly King Morph, to the streets of London. 2023 is the year of the coronation of King Charles III and this is also a homage to the monarchy antis momentous year.
My design for Pearly King Morph was inspired by the original Pearly King, Henry Croft. Born in London, in the 19th century, he was an orphan street sweeper that over his lifetime collected a lot of money for charity wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons. He was so well known that there is a statue of him in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. So I wanted to give Morph a Pearly King make-over to hit the streets of London in a flamboyant style and hoping that lots more people learn about Henry Croft too!
What challenges did you face when painting Morph?
Morph is a great shape to work with, and his broad smile simply makes it a joy to paint him! He’s very cuddly and I had him on castors so I could turn him around to the light with ease in order to paint him. No challenges as such but the buttons are what certainly took the longest time to do. I spent 23 hours painting them!
What do you hope people’s first impressions of the Pearly King Morph?
I hope that people find Pearly King Morph fun looking, that he catches people’s attention and stops them on their tracks! That they learn about Morph and the Pearly Kings and Queens of London, including about Henry Croft. And I hope he appears in lots of people’s photos and selfies, cheering up their day!
Being an London icon it was only right that the Pearly King Morph was placed somewhere iconic, thus you can find him right by the Tower of London. (Location in What3Words: ///worker.orders.chairs).
Pearly King Morph has got lost in central London. Can you spot him? Once you found him also see if you can spot some of Morph’s friends from Ardmann’s Amazing Adventures of Morph, as well as a HRH King Charles, 2 Beefeaters, 2 Royal Guards, 2 Knights of the round table and a John Mason International Removal Man. There are also 15 piegons hidden. Good luck! When you’ve found him click here to be in with a chance to win a Morph Plush!
Explore the Morph Adventure trail with John Mason International Movers and get inspired for your next big move. To find out more about Morph’s Epic Art Adventure in London visit: www.morphsadventurelondon.com.