Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Army of Morphs remember Tony Hart

By Alex Bushill
BBC News


Morphs at the Tate Modern gallery

Forget flashmob - this was more Morphmob.

Outside London's Tate Modern, about 200 devotees gathered to pay tribute to their doyen of DIY art - Tony Hart.

The children's television presenter and art enthusiast passed away earlier this year aged 83.

On Sunday some of his legions of fans decided to build a terracotta army of little orange men in his memory.

Scores of Morphs and his minions thronged a corner of the capital's South Bank. Their creators had fashioned them as a way of saying "thank you".

Speak to any of them and they would tell you Hart inspired them to get out there and create.

Adelaide Lane helped organise the event over social networking sites and she was delighted by the response.

Asked about Hart's legacy, she said: "You don't have to have expensive felt tips or paper.

"Just find whatever you can and make a piece of art. Just don't be scared. Just do it."

Tony Hart
Tony Hart appeared on the shows Vision On and Take Hart

It was a sentiment echoed in the many weird and wonderful versions of Morph on display.

Some wore top hats, others bikinis. One shed a single blue tear as the little orange effigy waved goodbye to his on-screen friend and partner.

His owner told me that as a child she would not have missed Hart's programme for the world.

Best in Show

Over the course of his 50-year television career, Hart won two Baftas and a lifetime achievement award.

His infectious enthusiasm and avuncular style won him generation after generation of fans.

On Sunday, surrounded by a plethora of plasticine, his daughter, Carolyn Williams, joined in the fun.

She was invited to judge Best Morph in Show and was touched by the effort so many had gone to.

Figurine from Morph 'flash mob' in London
The army of Morphs came in a variety of guises

"It's absolutely fantastic, so many colours, so many styles," she said. "Morph as you've never seen him before."

And what of the use of the internet to create the flashmob?

She thought her father would approve: "This is exactly what he was all about.

"Getting people together to join in and make a picture, to make something. It's so great."

And with that she announced the winner - a six-inch high Morph clasping a bunch of pink carnations.

His creator Laura Kerry, an arts manager from Walthamstow, London, said: "I only spent four hours making him. I heard about it and I was just really moved and felt we had to be part of it."

Just one person among so many touched by Tony Hart's love of art - let alone little orange people.

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