Archive for the ‘Monsters’ Category:

Monster opening Mad Dash at Sci-Port

‘How to Make a Monster’ is off and racing at Sci-Port Louisiana.

After the fun Monster Mad Dash opening event participants and their families visited the exhibition and received their prizes from our very own John Cox. If you have friends in the USA be sure to let them know that they can visit this fun & interactive exhibition until Easter Monday 2015. Find out more here:  Sci-Port

Happy Sci-Port visitors & runners:

   Monsters @ Sci-Port 11 Monsters @ Sci-Port 13 Monsters @ Sci-Port 14 Monsters @ Sci-Port 16  Monsters @ Sci-Port 23 Monsters @ Sci-Port 22 Monsters @ Sci-Port 21 Monsters @ Sci-Port 20 Monsters @ Sci-Port 19 Monsters @ Sci-Port 24   Monsters @ Sci-Port 27 Monsters @ Sci-Port 28 Monsters @ Sci-Port 29 Monsters @ Sci-Port 30 Monsters @ Sci-Port 31 Monsters @ Sci-Port 32

Ray Harryhausen & me

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013 Tribute – John Cox introduces Ray Harryhausen at the 3rd Brisbane International Animation Festival – 5 May, 2000.

John Cox, Ray Harryhausen & Diana Harryhausen at BIAF 2000

John Cox, Ray Harryhausen & Diana Harryhausen at BIAF 2000

‘I am very honored to be here tonight to introduce a man who, unbeknownst to him, was the sole reason for the path my career has taken. Last year (1999) I met Ray Harryhausen for the first time and I was fortunate enough to talk to him for about five minutes ..  something which took me 25 years to do. It was only a ‘Hi, love your work’ sort of a talk … there just wasn’t enough time in those 5 minutes to tell him what he had meant to me and how he was the beacon that I had followed.

Well, I’ve got a few more minutes now, so I’ll tell you the story of Ray Harryhausen and me.

When I was 14, living in the southern suburbs of Sydney, there were two things that consumed my every waking moment … magic and Ray Harryhausen. The two went hand in hand.

Ray had the best job in the world and, as a fourteen year old, I decided that his profession was the one I was going to follow. What could be more fun than making monsters come to life? And getting paid to do it?

What I then needed to figure out was  … how was it done??

It was easy to get books on magic and find out how the illusions were achieved, but in 1975, finding information on visual effects was extremely difficult. Most of the information I had to work with came from fan magazines, and they didn’t always get the techniques or the facts right. And Ray’s Film Fantasy Scrapbook gave absolutely nothing away, however, it did have great photos that I could study for hours on end.

At this time videos  weren’t around, but super 8mm movies were, .. and in order to better study stop motion techniques I bought the 4 x 8 minute parts of the 7th voyage of Sinbad and spliced them together. Every Saturday afternoon for the next three years I watched those 32 minutes of The Seventh voyage of Sinbad and also the 1933 B&W uncut version of King Kong.

These films inspired me to persevere in a field where there was little information available, and the only way to learn was through trial and error – experiment, make mistakes and try again. Using an 8mm camera it took several months before I could successfully walk a plasticene dinosaur from one side of the frame to the other, let alone synchronizing three guys sword fighting with seven skeletons that each have 5 moving appendages.

The deeper I delved into the magical world of special effects, the greater my admiration for Ray Harryhausen became, and the more determined I was to succeed at this choice of a career. Of course my parents always supported me but gently tried to persuade me to study surveying so that I could have a real job to fall back on should things not turn out the way I expected them to.

Well things didn’t turn out the way I expected, in 1977 when I left school stop motion animation was non-existent in Australia and so I had to let go of following directly in Ray’s footsteps.  But this didn’t stop me from getting involved in visual effects in other ways.

My story is similar to that of many people who are involved in visual effects today, they all cite one or another of Ray’s films as being the reason for them getting into this industry. Ray has been instrumental in leading a wealth of talent to the visual effects arena.

His job description on each of his films was to be a designer, creator, director, cameraman, technical consultant and often the initial writer, …. and this was before he even began animating and creating all the characters and other visual effects for his films.

During his career Ray has brought to life many mythical characters in many ground breaking films that have themselves become legendary.

And so, without further reminiscing by me, would you please welcome the inspirational Mr Ray Harryhausen.’


AAM13 Baltimore

I’ve just spent 4 days in the USA attending the American Alliance of Museums conference 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. It was an opportunity to catch up with museum and art gallery associates, spread the word about Monsters, and visit a range of interesting and diverse venues. I’m feeling a bit jet-lagged but very excited about future host venues for How to Make a Monster!




Julie has just returned form the Association of Science and Technology Centres conference, ASTC 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.

As well as meeting with associates at the conference Julie meet with colleagues and venues in New York, traveling to half her meetings by bicycle. We are now looking forward to touring ‘How to Make a Monster’ throughout Canada & the USA 2013-15.


Northern NSW Monster invasion


Grafton Region Gallery is hosting ‘How to Make a Monster – the art and technology of animatronics’ from 22 August to 21 October. With fun workshops and activities for all ages, loads of school groups already booked to experience Monsters, free creative workshops in Clarence Valley libraries, and even a Monster dress up musical concert, it is going to heaps of fun. To find more, including opening hours & directions, log on to:

Monster traditions

We recently had the joy of joining in a medieval monster tradition, the welcoming of the ‘Tarasque’ at the Abbaye St Michel de Frigolet, in Provence, France. This reptilian creature burned villages, ate local sheep and shepherds. The local king attacked the Tarasque with knights and catapults to no avail. Saint Martha found the beast and charmed it with hymns and prayers, and led the tamed Tarasque back to the city. The people, terrified by the monster, attacked it. The monster offered no resistance and died there. Martha then preached to the people and converted many of them to Christianity. Sorry for what they had done to the tamed monster, the newly-Christianized townspeople changed the town’s name to Tarascon.

Beauty and the Beast and King Kong are deeply seated concepts in our global psyche.