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From Swan Matches to Swan Lake

As a boy, John Macfarlane was shown how to make a miniature theatre from a matchbox by his architect father. He was to combine his love of architecture, art and music to go on to have a distinguished career in theatre design. His painterly visions have brought to life visually  some of the world’s best…

Summer of Street Games, Sing Song and Pick ‘n’ Mix

Memories of street games we played as children have left us with a lively nostalgia for certain toys. And memories of playtimes – often outside, often without an adult in sight – still feel to us the best possible forms of play for our children. A pocket-money toy and somewhere to skip, challenge a friend…

Regency Clowns and Grimaldi’s Jolly Journey to make George IV laugh

With Regency fashions currently cutting a dash across our screens, we have been immersing ourselves in the life of Grimaldi, the most popular English entertainer of the Regency Era. Born into a family of dancers and comic performers in the slum known as Clare Market, Covent Garden he was a principle performer at the Theatre…

Why I want a wooden hawk toy (poppo) from Japan

5th May is ‘Children’s Day’ (Kodomo no hi) in Japan. Originally a celebration for boys ‘Tango-no-sekku’ is celebrated by displaying dolls. The ‘May Dolls’ called Gogatsu Ningyo are made to wish good fortune and health on the boys. In Japanese culture, it is often said that a human soul inhabits the body of a doll….

Red Letter Days from 1970s Soho to 2020s Shanghai

Our link to Pollock’s Toy Museum in Fitzrovia is through it’s founder Marguerite Fawdry. Growing up in London, I was a frequent visitor to the Museum and sometimes my parents would pack me off to stay with my surrogate grandparents Marguerite & Kenneth in Fitzrovia.  Me at Pollock’s Toy Museum in the 1970s Marguerite was…

When a real Fairy Tale arrives in London…

  Do you think Fairy Tales are only book stories ? Are you one of those who believe that Fairy Tales can be seen only in movies or in theatre plays ?  Do you really believe those characters are unreachable and very distant from you ? Well… you might have to rethink all that. Benjamin…

Frills & Furbelows – Dressing Up and the Transformative Power of Costume

I smile to myself when I think how ONLY Pollock’s customers would literally hold up the queue by dressing up as a 18th century society lady and turning up to Trafalgar Square. In 2015 we were running a workshop (for 20,000 people) at West End Live’s annual theatrical showcase.  Artist Olia Manizer, who came to Pollocks…

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop talks to The TOY Project

1st June is International Children’s Day and to mark this whilst the shop is closed during the health crisis we asked all our podcast guests to allow us to make a print of their favourite image and offer exclusive sales to raise money for The TOY Project, a charity based in North London that recycles…

The History of Benjamin Pollock in Six Acts (Act 3, 4,5 & 6)

Working for an enterprise with such enthralling history behind it, I every so often find myself speculating how those heroes of the past felt….  Whenever I explore the history of Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, I see it as a vivid theatrical work divided into dramatic acts. Raphael Pinheiro Gonçalves March 2020 The History of Benjamin Pollock…

The History of Benjamin Pollock in Six Acts (Act 1 & 2)

Working for an enterprise with such enthralling history behind it, I every so often find myself speculating how those heroes of the past felt whilst working through wars and personal tragedy. I try to transport myself to the mid-19th century, more accurately to 1851, as an attempt to imagine what it was like, when a…

Opera House in a Box – Dolls & Dioramas

An exhibition by Viola Ann Seddon With titles by Simon Seddon Copyright Viola Ann Seddon & Simon Seddon Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Easter 2020  

Viola Ann Seddon – Dancers, Ballerinas & Acrobats

Toy theatre friends The best thing about running in a shop is meeting all your customers. Some who become friends, podcast guests, artistic collaborators. At the end of last year I was trying to source a toy theatre.  The ballet in a box ‘Swan Lake’ by Jean Mahoney and Viola Ann Seddon, published by Walker…

‘Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad…’

Hugo Cabret: ‘Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken.’ I’m a technician with a special interest in the very early days of motion…

A doll goes out into the world….and what if they don’t come back?

Here is a beguiling story I once read about Franz Kafka who in 1923, a year before his death, was walking through a park in Berlin when he across a small girl in a state of distress. The child was inconsolable as she had lost her favourite doll. Not missing a beat, Kafka immediately informed…

The Art of Doll Photography

“To me it’s normal now, being out and about taking pictures, it looks really crazy but to me it’s perfectly normal. I guess I do express myself” This is not a quote from luminary female photographer Cindy Sherman with a current retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery on until the 15th September, but the doll…

Transformation through imagination – British folk and their toys

FOLK TOYS Much has been written about folk art, popular art, naive art …. but where is the history of British folk toys? Whenever we think of folk toys we recognise those from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Japan, Russia and India – books have been published on the folk toys from these countries. The toys are…