Anna Tambour presents 


The virtuous medlar circle
thoroughly bletted
My Favourite artists
part 2

'Tin Toys that Never Were'
an introduction to and interview of
Lewis P. Morley
Lewis' art is so enjoyable, it is looked down on by some types who call art 'work'—and work that stuff often is (for the viewers, if not for the makers of it.)   Most likely, you haven't seen his art, but you've probably seen his work.
He was born in London. They say if you can remember the ‘60’s then you weren’t really there. 'I was there, 'Lewis says, 'but most of it was past my bedtime.' His dream was to work on sci-fi movies, and he's fulfilled that one.  He lives with Marilyn Pride whom he considers his soul-mate and muse. 
He also writes and illustrates Peregrine Besset — 'a mature readers' komic about a time-travelling Ancient Egyptian dwarf'. 

  'She's small, but don't call her little!'

Lewis dreams of helping to tell the full story of Marilyn’s Red World Saga, of which Peregrine Besset is, he says, 'a small footnote'.  


Lewis P. Morley is also the creator of what he calls
'Tin toys that never were'
Not only that, but these pictured never-were's are part of his private collection.
The situation demands analysis
so I cast him on the couch and called it an


Q: First of all, is this a reaction to your grey and boring salaryman day job? 
A: Ok, let’s get one thing straight. Just because I work in the film industry, doesn’t mean it’s all glamour and glitz – at least not at the coalface I labour at. I’m much more likely to be told to leave the room because 'George' or 'Mr.Cruise' are wanting to come in and see the work I’ve been doing without having to deal with tradesmen. I get to work creatively, but only on other people’s dreams. The tin toys that never were is stuff that is all for me. I don’t have to worry about other people’s opinions about what I’m doing – apart from Marilyn, whose views I respect.
So you work with computer projections, do you? What? Economic forecasting?
The computers I work with are usually piloted by other people. My most thankless task is to be given a bit of paper and told to 'build that'. In this age of mega-budget productions where everything is pre-tested and presold, all the conceptual work is done long before I’m brought on board – the fools!
I get the idea that you never were an economics modeller, even as a child. What interested you as a child, if not economics?
Having grown up in the 1960s I was fascinated by toys, popular culture and '60s Television. If it had a name, it would have to be called 'Thunderbirds'.  
     This passion hasn’t died despite the fact I am now middle-aged. During my childhood toys were changing, the manufacturing techniques crossing over from tinplate and slipcast rubber to injection-moulded polystyrene. The newer toys were plastic, and despite the fact that they were usually only one colour (as opposed to the full colour of lithographed tin) they had more dimension and texture. I thus considered them hugely superior to the old-fashioned tin toys. 
     It was only much later in life that I began to appreciate the artistry that went into making an object from flat metal, how flat tin can be pressed to form objects with depth. I noticed how the flat artwork had to compensate for the smoother, simpler shapes by being more vibrant and often hyper-realistic in style. Tin toys are still a bit of a mystery to me. I really don’t  understand how the tin doesn’t crinkle up like a piece of tin foil, let alone how the pre-printed coating isn’t scraped away during this stamping process.
Did you have favourites?
The tin robots of the 1960s were always my favourite. I loved how often they had moulded plastic details to add richness and texture to the finished item. One innovation of this period was the introduction of fluorescent dyes, which meant that many of my favourite childhood toys contained components made of hot pink or lime green transparent plastic.
So what made you warp-jump from appreciation to ‘toys that never were’?
One day in the mid '80s I decided to chase down some of that plastic which was by this time being used mostly for items like ice cream spoons. I found an ice lolly freezing mould with interesting textures in the desired colour. This became the basis for the  details on my “Robot Rider” piece.
Is “Robot Rider” cross-timeframe?
The basic idea is inspired by battery-operated walking toys, but this mounted robot features a type of dinosaur that was unknown in the popular culture of the '60s. We’d have to wait for the movie 'Jurassic Park' before deinonychus would become a household name amongst eight- year olds.
If it really isn’t made of tin, what IS it made of?
The sculpture is carved from urethane foam, coated in a smooth coat of resin and detailed with cardboard strips to simulate folded seams. All of the flat surfaces are made of bent card. The bright auto-lacquer finish is inspired by a tin clicker crocodile I bought in a charming old toy shop in Broken Hill in the early '80s.  (I have an entire nostalgic history surrounding old-style toy shops, such as the long-gone Heyer’s Toyland in Melbourne – but that is another story.)
A story that shall be continued, to be sure. For now, do you have anything to say about 21st century toy shops?
Sadly the toy shops of today have succumbed to the category killers: K Mart, Big W and Target. The Mom & Pop stores like Heyer’s and Fantasia are all gone, driven out by the new mass economics of brand power and loss leaders. I recall working with Marilyn on a TV ad for a new toy store called Toys-R-Us, and Mal was helping decorate the set with creatively placed toys when the client came in and cried 'No! That’s all wrong!  The product has to be displayed in bands of boxes . . .' Indeed, the whole look had to be one of a wall of product, ready to be taken down and shipped out, rather than an indication  of how nice the toys inside might be.
If tin toys get to you as an artist, why did you spend so much time on your tin toys that you admit 'never were', when you could have made an installation of real ones (and if you didn’t have a tin toy at hand, you could have just jotted down a note and exhibited some barbed wire or a bicycle tyre or urinal to represent tin toys; or you could have smashed something, maybe a tin toy (remembering not to get anal about subject matter)  or written a note saying that you think of doing that, and exhibited that — or whatever.  You should know. So why haven’t you treated the subject of tin toys in a way that shows you thought about these objects in relationship to art funding social relevance) so that they’re unequivocally gallery-level art?  
I can talk the talk, sorta. I did a couple of gigs at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, explaining the theories behind the art of Ricky Swallows and Eric Swenson (not that I’ve ever met them, but this is ART and knowledgeable perception is all). I have a whole other rant about Patricia Pichinini and the fact that she has the BIG WONDERFUL ideas, then gets uncredited drones to  actually do the hard work – often to less than brilliant results – but I digress. If you want to see superior skill wedded to good ideas and THE ART THING, just take a look at the work of Ron Mueck and be suitably chastened on all levels. The man is a God. Just in case you think I was so pure as to not attempt to peddle this brush with SERIOUS MODERN ART into a meal-ticket of my own, then I must disappoint you.
     I gave a copy of one of my hyper-fetishized 1960s Black Lady Robots to the curator I was dealing with – to no avail. Sigh . . .
Lewis' studio
You do know, don’t you, that these tin toys that never were are dangerously intriguing and collectible? Don’t you feel guilty?
Of course not. Of the two Black Lady Robots I’ve given to others, one resulted in no effect and the other was crucified by the Star Wars 3 Art department, an occurence that still rankles deeply. If they didn’t want it, they could just have returned it. It was an original, not some K-Mart toy!

This has only been a glimpse into
the warped world of Lewis P. Morley.
There's another glimpse
Read the komic
Peregrine Besset
(Leave comments, too!)
"It's your standard Ancient Egyptian time-travelling dwarf gets thrown into the 22nd century, meets Australian Space Diplomats and confronts God-like inter-
dimensional robots story" !
The Red World

To have and to hold . . .
Everything Lewis P Morley creates is so  damnably cravable that I asked him whether he would ever create for a collector.
He said, "I can do commissions, but I would charge professional rates, so they might appear quite expensive to most people’s expectations. Some people complain that they don’t cost that much in K-Mart!"
Obsessed? Warped? Craving, say, a hyper-fetishized Black Lady Robot or a whole show of never-were's, and K-Mart and the upmarket galleries fail to satisfy?
Contact Lewis P. Morley
redworldstories   @

The virtuous medlar circle

is part of
Anna Tambour and Others

The artworks here are copyright © by Lewis P. Morley
and are not to be reproduced in any way without his prior permission.
These works appear here with thanks to Lewis P. Morley, whose payment was less than a brass razoo.
This is part of a series of pieces about people I find deliciously inspiring, always a hoot, and who write like a bletted medlar tastes. A.T.
The Virtuous Medlar Circle © 2004 - 2007