If you're taking a walk through London today, remember to watch your step as there are some very special visitors perusing the Capital. Peter Rabbit™, Mr. Jeremy Fisher™, Jemima Puddle-Duck™, Squirrel Nutkin™, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle™ and Mrs. Tittlemouse™ were all given modern makeovers by renowned street artist Marcus Crocker and installed at sites including the Southbank, Westminster Bridge, St. James’ Park and Bond Street in the early hours of this morning -all to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth.
(Notorious mischief maker Peter Rabbit has been given a selfie stick, to record his adventures on a visit to London. By gathering images of his trip – including those taken at tourist hotspot the London Eye to share with family and friends – he reflects Beatrix Potter’s trait as a storyteller.)
Anyone who knows me well will be able to tell you that a Beatrix Potter/street art mash up pushes all of my dream collaboration buttons and has done since I first spied work by Bristol based artist Harry Bunce at a gallery last year. This latest campaign by Crocker commissioned by Penguin Random House doesn't disappoint. The tiny tributes, each of which took over 140 painstaking hours to create from start to finish, measure just 17cm or less, with an average weight of 200 grams.
(Accident-prone Jeremy is captured making a return to his favourite pastime – fishing for minnows – in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, whilst also indulging in a listen some of his favourite music and audiobooks via his on-trend headphones.)
But for me it's not the size but the contemporary situations that these beloved characters now find themselves in which I love the most. I can't help but love the fact that Jemima Puddle-Duck™ (my all time favourite of all the Potter characters) has finally got her own back on the Foxy Whiskered Gentleman - turning him into a fur coat!
(Naïve Jemima, who almost met her end at the hands of the villainous Foxy Whiskered Gentleman, gets her revenge by purchasing a (faux) fox fur coat in Bond Street.)
Peter Rabbit has taken to Twitter to narrate his #littleadventure, having escaped his Lake District burrow and travelled down to London by train and you can follow his story @beatrixpotter on Twitter and see how the adventure unfolds.
(Honouring Beatrix the businesswoman, enterprising washerwoman Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is depicted running her own launderette in the City.)
The reimagined small versions of the familiar characters reflect the diminutive dimensions of the original Peter Rabbit stories, whilst some also contain a nod to Beatrix Potter’s varied accomplishments as a Conservationist; Botanist; Businesswoman; Artist; Storyteller all of which made her a woman ahead of her time. The anniversary year will celebrate all of these themes throughout 2016.
(Peace-loving but bad-mannered Squirrel Nutkin makes his feelings on red-grey squirrel relations known in the notorious grey squirrel hotbed of St. James’ Park, in a nod to Beatrix the conservationist.)Head of Licensing and Consumer Products at Penguin UK Susan Bolsover said: “In this milestone year we really wanted to do something unexpected to celebrate Beatrix Potter’s extraordinary legacy, and updating the narrative behind these iconic creations allowed us to produce a truly surprising result. Marcus has shown an extraordinary level of attention to detail, love and care when creating his small charges and we hope the public enjoy this interpretation of how the characters might have evolved throughout their adventures.” Artist Marcus Crocker said: “Understanding the anatomy of each animal was very important to me – Beatrix Potter felt the same. Balancing this desire for accuracy against making sure each figure remained true to her work was a huge challenge, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, and I hope everyone enjoys the result.”
(The smallest of all the characters, terribly tidy Mrs Tittlemouse reflects Beatrix the botanist, using a leaf blower on the entrance to her home in Chelsea’s The Boltons, near to the site of Beatrix’s London home.)The figures will go on display at Waterstones Piccadilly for the month of July. To find out more about Beatrix Potter visit peterrabbit.com.