Sunday, June 20, 2010

this charming (dad)...episode 14

Happy Father's Day 

14. ~ a rose (& tiny model umbrella)
I guess it's not often you see a rose as a symbol of Father's Day, but for me it's a powerful connection to my late dad.
He chose 'Rose' for my middle name - when I was a little girl he told me I was a precious rosebud, in later years he relayed how he was inspired by the enigmatic last words ('rosebud') of Orson Welles playing the role of Citizen Kane,  often considered the greatest movie of all time.

The theatrical link between roses & Orson Welles does not end there....but more of that & the umbrella, later.

my dad was many things. Of Italian descent, he was raised by his devout Catholic family who ran sweet shops & a cafe in East London.

From an early age he showed a great interest in the theatre, 
here he is in a school production of Hiawatha, aged about 7.

He joined the Royal Navy as a teenager and served in World War II
on the battleship, HMS Duke of York.

He then began a long, love affair with the world of theatrical design & production.

He was considered a genius by some who worked along side him.

He is pictured here as assistant to the great Orson Welles, on the 1952 Roland Petit ballet - Lady In the Ice.

He was a founding member of the renowned Royal Exchange Theatre Company in Manchester, England.
His finest moment is without doubt,  the conception & design of the breath-taking Royal Exchange Theatre itself, an astounding 7 sided glass & steel structured 'theatre in the round', which sits flooded by light from the beautiful domed wondows in the wonderfully restored old Exchange building. 

At the beginning of the project, when he first walked into the then derelict space, he was immediately reminded of Citizen Kane & wrote 'rosebud' in the dust on the parquet flooring...

This electric moment recalled by his fellow company members, led to a theatre module inspired by nature's perfect design of the unfolding petals of a rose. 

He also taught theatrical design at Wimbledon School Of Art.
His model-making skills were legendary - miniature set designs always completed with a painstaking attention to detail.
On his retirement, his students presented him with a cake, adorned with a perfect little model of him!

In 2009, a former student David Burrows 
put on a brilliant exhibition of his amazing work.

You can see a gallery of photos from this exhibition here,
also please visit to learn more about my dad's theatre work & his legacy.

On a more personal note, he was a loving & devoted husband to my mum...

...a funny & caring dad to 8 kids!
the best bedtime story teller - silly voices & actions a plenty, not to mention how a quick ruffle of his hair transformed him into 'stig of the dump' so completely.

( and a long suffering taxi driver in our later years, lol)

skills he repeated so enthusiastically as a grandad,

including his brilliant model-making

there were grand doll's houses for little princesses...

and work-shops 
with maticulous 
detail for the boys!

another example of this talent is that little umbrella - I must have had him make me hundreds of those growing up! 

to me, he was just funny old dad - (the best)

for dad ♥ x


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad, Vicky!

  2. What a wonderful Father you've been blessed with. To all the fantastic Daddies out there...Have a great Father's Day!