Morph joins the Morris tradition to support Sidmouth Folk Festival

  Posted: 30.06.20 at 12:56 by Joseph Bulmer

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Aardman Animations co-founder Peter Lord has created an exclusive one-off sculpture of one of the its favourite characters, Morph, styled as a Morris dancer to benefit Sidmouth Folk Festival’s new crowdfunding campaign, which launched today (Tuesday, June 30).

The unique pint-sized model – which shows the cheeky Morph ready for folk dance action with flowery straw hat, stick, bells and sash – is one of the star rewards of the fundraising drive to support the future of Sidmouth Folk Festival, the world’s longest-running folk festival. It is expected to attract a donation of £2,500.

Peter, creative director of the award-winning Bristol-based animation studio also responsible for beloved film and TV characters Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, is a stalwart folk music fan.

“Morris Morph combines my two great passions – animation and British folk music. And of course with your help, he’s going to make sure that Sidmouth Folk Festival also survives and thrives to delight new generations,” said Peter.

“The Morph you see on screen is simply made of modelling clay, which is great for animation, but not so great for longevity! The hundreds of Morphs that I’ve made over the years have all been used for animation and then politely recycled.

“But this one is different! I hand-made this Morph from a wonderful material called SuperSculpey. It behaves exactly like Plasticine, except that you can bake it hard and then paint it. So with care, Morris Morph should last a lifetime.”

Morris Morph. Pictures courtesy of Aardman Animations.

Peter made the first ever Morph in 1976, the year he started Aardman Animations with his school-friend David Sproxton.

“Morph made his TV debut on Take Hart alongside the splendid artist Tony Hart. Shortly afterwards, and I think co-incidentally, I joined Bristol Morris. I have to admit that Morph stuck to animation much better than I stuck to dancing,” added Peter.

“Suffice it so say that he’s still going strong after more than 40 years, and looking as young as ever, whereas I lapsed from Morris after only a few years (but that’s another story) and I’m definitely looking my age.”

Other fundraising rewards available include musical masterclasses with artists like Martin Simpson and John Kirkpatrick; brunch at a Sidmouth hotel with Eliza Carthy; a personalised “experience” with Spooky Men’s Chorale; long-term festival season ticket deals; online lessons with Nancy Kerr, Saul Rose or John Dipper; a personalised tune written by Blowzabella; relaxing weekend breaks in the town, or merchandise from a host of top folk acts. Donors will all be recognised with their names going up on a champions’ wall in the town in 2021.

The campaign runs through until the first week in August, when the streets of Sidmouth would have been teeming with thousands of festival-goers enjoying the joyful, party atmosphere. Folk artists are, instead, lining up to take part in a virtual online festival scheduled for August 1 and 2.

Morris Morph. Pictures courtesy of Aardman Animations.

For more details on the festival and the crowdfunding campaign visit sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk.

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