Bruce Bickford: Feats of Clay


NB. This is a cannibalised, barely recognisable version of an article originally written in 2010 for a now-offline website. The original article holds the rare distinction of being a piece I was actually paid to write.

To the long-suffering near-masochists known as Zappa fans, the unmistakable work of Bruce Bickford is a familiar sight. Easily the best thing about Baby Snakes, his fascinating animated sequences mitigate against the longeurs of Roy Estrada and that doll. But Bickford has had a long career independently of Zappa’s patronage, and is perhaps the only outsider artist to work in the medium of animation. A personal appearance at London’s Horse Hospital in 2010 – along with a screening of the documentary portrait Monster Road and of his film Cas’l – still seemingly a work in progress at that time – offered a chance to find out more. Continue reading

Jan Lenica’s Ubu et la Grande Gidouille (1979)


Jan Lenica’s 1979 feature length animated film Ubu et la Grande Gidouille is his most ambitious work: boldly designed, assertively crude in its animation and subject matter, and most importantly, it is bitterly, unsparingly satirical. Ubu┬áis a testament to a long career straddling the avant-garde and the commercial. Although Lenica lived until 2001, he worked only sporadically in animation afterwards, focusing instead on teaching and design. This was his chance to make a grand statement; to express his disillusionment at the failed promise of artistic and political ideals. Continue reading