Important Messages, such as Service Disruption and Opening Times.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM UK time. We will try to give assistance to those people not living in the UK outside of those hours if possible.

helping a picture become reality

Anyone who has followed me on internet radio over the years will have heard from 2009 onwards a high pitched character I created to help produce promos and jingles, usually to promote the shows of other people rather than my own. These would usually consist of him singing, rather than me, as you won't hear me singing using my natural voice in a promo!

That character became Bert, and inadvertently became a leprechaun of all things. Yes, a leprechaun who was brought up in London with east-end parents. Not ideal, but lets go with it!

I didn't necessarily think he would become more than that character, but my partner L had other ideas. She was going to broaden out the language on his Twitter stream to give him a more rounded appeal with an endearing personality, write a blog for him, a journal which has been read by thousands of people and she would write the scripts for his audio drama podcasts which again seem to be very popular.

But this blog entry isn't about all of that which is covered elsewhere. It's about something which I tried to organise for L which seems really to have paid off.

What is amazing to me is L's visual imagination together with her graphical description of imagery. Like me, she is unable to see, so it is very difficult to know where it all comes from. But she wanted to conceptualise in a visual form what Bert the lep would be like. I would not have the first idea of how to go about this, but she did, and I guess writing his journal helped in that respect. L completely and independently designed a concept of what Bert would look like, including his ears, nose, eyes and size.

When the artist Scott Clarke drew him and made pictures which could be put on the wall and on the website, everyone who saw him was amazed at the way he looked and found it difficult to believe that he was drawn based entirely on L's ideas. Apparently he is so so good to look at.

But I wanted to go a stage further and give L something that she could appreciate for herself. How was I going to do that? How could I convey to her in a tactile way the image she had created? That was going to be difficult. A tactile diagram on paper which could easily be destroyed or marred in some way just wasn't going to cut it.

Then I sat down and thought about it carefully. L is into dolls in a big way. How about a doll which would resemble Bert in terms of weight, size and appearance? Again, quite a challenging task because I know almost nothing about the subject.

I heard about "reborn artists" who love creating life-like babies. But where to find one who would take on the challenge of constructing a leprechaun who looks human to a large extent and who is 32 inches tall?

Having carried out some research on the internet, I called one such artist who felt she could not take this on. But then I struck lucky. Elaine Colbert is one of the most respected reborn artists in the country, and while she said she had never constructed any doll of Bert's height and weight before, she was prepared to give it a go.

The project took over six months to complete. But Elaine had the pictures of bert available to her in addition to feedback from L herself concerning how she felt he should look. A tremendous amount of hard work must have gone into designing Bert, the life-size lep. His skin is smooth to the touch, very realistic and his hair took in itself a week to prepare. His little pointy ears also feel wonderful. Bert will last a long time. What amazes me is how an artist can create something like this based upon a picture, and have it look like the character but in a life-size form! That is real talent that I completely respect.

As you can tell, Bert looks just like his picture and he is so "life-like". People who have visited us over this festive period do a "double take" as they think there is a little boy sitting in the room, but of course, it isn't. You can see some pictures by clicking on the links below. These are pictures of Bert, the doll, rather than the pictures originally produced by Scott Clarke, the artist.

The end result is that L seems completely thrilled with Bert which makes the whole thing very worthwhile and I am delighted she has him. I wasn't able to go to collect Bert with L, but she clearly had a fun day out and is delighted to be able to hold a character she herself has created.