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16 October 2014
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Webcam: 'Watching Paint Dry'

The stage of the main hall of Ballycastle's Cross and Passion College took on the exotic landscape of Thailand in 2002.

County Antrim

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From Bangkok to Ballycastle!

webcam pic
the finished article

The stage of the main hall of Ballycastle's Cross and Passion College took on the exotic landscape of Thailand for the college's production of "The King and I" in 2002. The man who brought about this transformation was Bushmills artist, Brian Willis.

We watched Brian bring 'Siam' to life at "Your Place & mine" via our WEBCAM.

The picture to the left is a view of the webcam which was live on Wednesday 28th, Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August 2002.

Brian Willis

Now in his sixties, Brian Willis has been painting scenery, as a hobby, for amateur theatrical light opera companies since he was in his early teens. Companies in Northern Ireland he has done work for include .. Lisnagarvey Operatic, Portrush Music Society, Coleraine Provincial Players, Ballycastle Choral Society, Newcastle Glee Singers, Ulster Operatic Society Belfast, Lyric Light Opera Company Belfast, and Cross and Passion Ballycastle.

You can view other stage sets that Brian has produced for productions such as "Brigadoon" and "The Sound of Music" by clicking here to visit his website.

Cross and Passion College

Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle

The College's last production, which was "Annie" in 2000, was a great success. (You can view the scenery Brian painted for "Annie" by visiting his website.) "The King and I" will be performed in the Marconi wing of the College. To read more about Marconi's connection with Ballycastle and about the town itself - click here .

Since the 1970's, the school has provided a comprehensive education for all pupils in Ballycastle and the surrounding parishes. It was at that time that the local secondary, Star of the Sea, and Cross and Passion Convent were merged to form one college.

Brian's Painting Preparations

Brian had been given a brief by the designer of the show, Brian Logan .... "A stylised general montage of (Siam) Thailand. Temples, etc. This backcloth will be used in several scenes depicting different locations so the painting has to be general and not specific."

There was alot of preparation and hard work to be done before Brian could put pen to paper. He spent time researching Thailand architecture, temples and foliage through guide books, travel brochures, the internet, videos of "King and I", as well as photos from friends who have visited that country.

From rough pencil sketches emerged a final draft which Brian drew on a sheet of paper to the scale of 1cm to the foot. (It is, according to Brian, "an apparent silly mixture of old and new measurements but it works." ) This pencil sketch was his "treatment" and he referred to it when working on the details.

Brian's pencil treatment sketch for the painting
The cartoon figure (to scale) is there to give Brian
an idea of how actors will look against the backcloth

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