looking-up

To Maurice, June 10, 1928

In 2012  Transition and Lightmap teamed up with the Barbican, London, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Aldeburgh Festival, to create multimedia performances of Oliver Knussen and Maurice Sendak’s amazing operas Where The Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! directed and designed by Netia Jones.

This is a behind-the-scenes diary of ideas, inspirations and work in progress leading up to the performances in June, October and November 2012. Keep reading…

“he sailed off through night and day,
and in and out of weeks,
and almost over a year,
to where the wild things are.”
Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

all illustrations Maurice Sendak
all images, drawings & photographs Netia Jones

september12

“Children are the only reasonably sane audience”
Maurice Sendak

 

“It was inconceivable to me as a child that I would be an adult. I mean, one assumed that would happen, but obviously it didn’t happen, or if it did, it happened when your back was turned, and then suddenly you were there”

Maurice Sendak

“You can’t protect children. They know everything”
Maurice Sendak

“there is no such thing as fantasy unrelated to reality”
Maurice Sendak

 

“Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do”
Maurice Sendak

 

“When you hide another story in a story, that’s the story I am telling the children.”
Maurice Sendak

 

“I love angels”
Maurice Sendak

“I’ve devoted my life to those other freaky kids who lick, sniff, and carry on over their books before they even read them.”
Maurice Sendak

 

“it’s a matter of reading between the lines”
Maurice Sendak

“a true picture book is a visual poem”
Maurice Sendak


“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”
Maurice Sendak

“clinch with, and collaborate with”
Maurice Sendak

2-10 Where the Wild Things Are, op.20 – Fantasy opera in Nine Scenes – The Wild Rumpus_ _Now stop!_ (Max, Wild Things)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Knussen-Where-Things-Higglety-Pigglety/dp/B00005A83C/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336211409&sr=8-2

“It is my involvement with this inescapable fact of childhood – the awful vulnerability of children and their struggle to make themselves King of all Wild Things – that gives my work whatever truth and passion it may have.”
Maurice Sendak

“I spent hundreds of hours sitting at my window, sketching neighbourhood children at play” 
Maurice Sendak

“they (the wild things) were meant not to terrify – they don’t terrify children… they did terrify grownups but then grownups are so easily terrified…where do you begin? Or end?”
Maurice Sendak

“my own family… all these dreadful people I’d known all my life… people I could never get revenge on ever… but now. And so they indeed became the things. They were all my Jewish relatives. And actually they’re quite flattering portraits”
Maurice Sendak

“Since I was 16 or so Mozart has been my saviour, and the Magic Flute is my favourite of all his perfect operas. It has everything I wish my own work had a scrap of; beauty of shape and design, a comic, low-down vaudeville vitality blended with dark serious truth-telling, depth of soul, and a generous, unjudgmental view of humankind”
Maurice Sendak

 

“Max was a little beast, and we’re all little beasts. That was what was so novel.”
Maurice Sendak

“Children who fight back, children who are full of excitement are the kind of children I like.”
Maurice Sendak

“Words are left out, but the picture says it. Pictures are left out—but the word says it.”  
Maurice Sendak

“I was developing a child who I recognized as myself as a child, from my observations of other children around me in Brooklyn. We were wild creatures. We did things that were objectionable.”
Maurice Sendak

“I spent a lot of time being sick, as I recollect, and there is the happy memory, actually, of being indoors and watching – the window became my movie camera, my television set.”
Maurice Sendak

“I seem to have been blessed and cursed with total recall of childhood”
Maurice Sendak

“My own fears were very peculiar. I was terrified of the vacuum cleaner, you know, untraditionally…when my mother plugged the vacuum cleaner in, and it was those old-fashioned Hoovers, you know, the thing blew up visibly, and the sight of that bag swelling used to just drive me right up the wall, literally. I had to get out of the house, and I was sent to the neighbors until she was all done.”
Maurice Sendak

“The point of my books has always been to ask how children cope with a monumental problem that happened instantly and changed their lives forever, but they have to go on living. And they cannot discuss this with anyone. No one will take the time. Parents are embarrassed so they’ll shush them up.” 
Maurice Sendak

“I wanted the writing to be as terse and as tough as Jennie was, almost acidic – to contain nothing sentimental or romantic”
Maurice Sendak

“Being a kid is hard, but if they’re smart and clever and determined and egocentric they will survive”
Maurice Sendak

“I don’t believe in things literally for children. That’s a reduction.”
Maurice Sendak

“children are the only reasonably sane audience”
Maurice Sendak

“You must never illustrate exactly what is written. You must find a space in the text so that the pictures can do the work”
Maurice Sendak

“Childhood is a tricky business. Usually, something goes wrong.”

Maurice Sendak

“I have been doodling with ink and watercolor on paper all my life. It’s my way of stirring up my imagination to see what I find hidden in my head. I call the results dream pictures, fantasy sketches, and even brain-sharpening exercises.”

Maurice Sendak

“A picture book is not what most people think it is – an easy thing, with a lot of pictures in it, to read to small children. For me, it is a damned difficult thing to do, like working in a complicated and challenging poetic form. It demands so much that you have to be on top of the situation all the time, finally to achieve something so simple and so put together – so seamless – that it looks as if you knocked it off in no time. One stitch showing and you’ve lost the game”

Maurice Sendak

“I recommend doodling as an excellent exercise in stirring up the unconscious, just as you would stir up some mysterious soup all the while hoping it tastes good”
Maurice Sendak

12 Music for a Puppet Court, Op. 11_ II. Toyshop Music after _Tris_

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Knussen-Conducts-Oliver/dp/B000001GRY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326795717&sr=8-1

“none of my books come about through ‘ideas’ or by thinking of a particular subject and exclaiming, ‘Gee, that’s terrific; I’ll just put it down!’ They never happen quite that way. They well up. Just as dreams come to us at night, feelings come to me,and I rush to put them down. But these fantasies have to be given a physical form, so I build a kind of house around them – the story – and the painting of the house is the picture-making. Essentially however, it’s a dream or fantasy”.
Maurice Sendak

“I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we’re not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young.”
Maurice Sendak

“When you hide another story in a story, that’s the story I am telling the children.”
Maurice Sendak

k

In December
I will be
a baubled bangled
Christmas tree
with soup bowls hanging over me
Merry once
merry twice
merry chicken soup
with rice.

Chicken Soup With Rice, Maurice Sendak

01 – Oliver Knussen_ Three Little Fantasies_ I. – II. – III.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Oliver-Knussen-Three-Little-Fantasies/dp/B002RAKQA0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1324402666&sr=8-3