So I had a pretty busy week seeing Neil Gaiman twice: firstly in a sort of concert and secondly in an interview with illustrator Elise Hurst to promote his new illustrated version of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I had been to a Neil Gaiman event previously, when he was promoting Art Matters with another illustrator he had collaborated with many times, Chris Riddell. So I was aware of the concept: a little interview talking about the book and the process behind putting it together, followed by questions from the audience. I have not read The Ocean at the End of the Lane yet, but Gaiman was kind enough to read a little atmospheric section from it, and now I will add it to my long list of things to read.
Whilst Gaiman was reading there was a screen behind him showing illustrations by Elise Hurst, fine art drawings that were mesmerising to watch come together. It was interesting learning how the book is somewhat biographical, but not really, merging art and reality. Funnily, Gaiman said his sister called him up stating that it wasn’t a faithful portrayal of their childhood, to which Gaiman replied, yes, he has two sisters but the book’s protagonist only has one.
It was also interesting learning that Hurst had created many illustrations for the book that ended up being thrown away, and that it is the artist’s job to make it look easy, when in reality it is not easy at all.
Here are a couple of illustrations from Elise Hurst that were displayed in the foyer area:
The evening was presented by the Guardian and you can watch the whole thing here: https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1yoJMzpdlvDxQ
The other Neil Gaiman filled evening earlier in the week was called Playing in the Dark, with readings and music from Neil Gaiman himself, Amanda Palmer, baritone Simon Butteriss, conducter Mihhail Gerts, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and surprise guest David Tennant.
Readings from Gaiman’s work was wide-ranging and music played after each reading. A couple of my favourites from the evening was The Mushroom Hunters, read by Amanda Palmer, Gaiman’s wife; and a section from The Children of Loki from Gaiman’s collection Norse Mythology, about the Norse god Loki’s son Fenrir, a fearsome wolf. I am a sucker for anything dog related.
The best part of the evening was a reading from Good Omens (by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) from David Tennant, who played the demon Crowley in the TV adaptation. This was a lovely surprise as it wasn’t on the programme. The evening ended with the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing the theme tune of Good Omens and it was magical.
The concert was recorded and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 23 December and BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day.