• 11May
    Categories: Journal entries Comments Off on The Magic of Kit Williams

    This morning I read that the stunning hare amulet designed by Kit Williams is on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is part of the British Design 1948 – 2012 exhibition running until 12th August 2012. I’m thrilled to finally be able to see this, having been gripped by the book when it came out in 1979 (when I was 11 years old) and treasuring his beautiful paintings ever since.

    Kit Williams fascinates me and he is so hard to find out about, which adds to his enigma, having withdrawn from the spotlight after the success and media attention of Masquerade (and who could blame him for that). Doing some searching today I discovered some interesting pages and information, so I thought I’d put them together here for anyone else who is interested and wishes to learn more about this magical and supremely talented man.

    To begin with I was unaware there had been a BBC4 documentary in 2009 called “The Man Behind the Masquerade”. Thank goodness for YouTube which has the complete programme split into 6 parts here. If you are unable to follow the link, you’ll find it under “Kit Williams doc” posted by mobias7.

    For insight into the Masquerade book, information about Kit’s other book – Untitled (The Bee Book), or about treasure hunts in general, take a look at Dan’s excellent website which has a page by page guide to Masquerade and lots of other information.

    It is difficult to locate information about Kit William’s other paintings but I did find some beauties at the Museum Syndicate website – click each to view at larger size.

    The other books I know of, either by or about Kit Williams, are Bamber Gascoigne’s “Quest for the Golden Hare” which tells about how the hunt for the hare gripped the nation and holds the answers – by the only other person to know the secret at the time.  “Engines of Ingenuity” by Kit Williams featuring beautiful objects made by him and “Out Of One Eye: The Art of Kit Williams” by Kit Williams, which features paintings done prior to Masquerade and photographs of some of his intricate mechanisms made from wood and jewels.

    He also designed some stunning animated public clocks which I’ve yet to see. One is the centrepiece of the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham, designed in 1985, called the “Wishing Fish Clock”. Midsummer Place, Central Milton Keynes and Telford shopping centres, feature versions of “The Time Machine”, “Frog Clock” or “Bubble Clock” which has a frog blowing bubbles into the air every 30 minutes – hard to describe what happens, you have to see it! Just do a search on Flickr or YouTube to find out more about this pieces. The Lady and Tiger Illusion Clock used to stand in Beechwood Shopping Centre in Cheltenham and in trying to find out about that I discovered this article – which just seems to illustrate how Kit Williams work continues to lay dormant waiting to be unearthed again and truly appreciated!!!

    It seems astounding to me that his other work is not better known and celebrated, but he is an unassuming and private man intent on his creations, I can totally understand his wish to remain out of the public eye. I’ve also read that many of his works depend on the interactive elements, which makes them difficult to put on public display. Surely even if they could not be fully interacted with in a gallery, the paintings would be stunning to view? In the 2009 documentary it says he has painted over 300 pictures which have never been put on public display. Please let this be put right sometime soon!!

    “I once sold this painting to a man in America. We had to go to America for some other reason. I went to visit him and the picture was so badly positioned and so badly lit that I said “I’m sorry about this” – I gave him his money back and bought the painting back to England.” – Kit Williams speaking in the BBC4 documentary “The Man Behind the Masquerade”

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