Yesterday I attended the 95th birthday party of Axel Axelrad. An amazing puppet maker, Axel has had an incredible career in puppetry over many decades and is responsible for a lot of the characters seen on Australian TV in the past 50 years eg, The Magic Circle Club, Adventure Island, the dog from Young Talent Time and of course Ossie Ostrich from Hey Hey it's Saturday. Migrating to Australia from Germany in the 1930's, Axel and his wife created company Lamont Puppets, supplying there incredible range of puppets to toy stores all over the world.
Meeting Axel was such a pleasure. At 95, he still lives in his own home, drives his car to and from the supermarket, and is incredibly switched on. He allowed us to wander freely through his home discovering puppets at every turn. Axel regailed us with stories about his work and shared details of how his puppets were created. As a young man in Germany, Axel trained and worked as an Industrial Engineer; this sensibility shines through in his designs, so sleek and functional but, like the man himself they have a hell of a lot of character.
This event also gave me the chance to catch up with others in our puppetry community. Julia Davis and Richard Hart of Dream Puppets organised the event; I had not had a chance to catch up with them since returning from the UK. It was wonderful to hear about all their current projects and future plans. My fellow LSP student Angie Macmillan was also there, thoroughly impressed, as I was, by Axel's incredible body of work.
It was such a privileged to meet this legend of Australian puppetry, and just a joy to spend time with a genuinely lovely man. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon in Axel's home. Among chocolate cake and fantastic conversation, I felt truly inspired and very happy. Axel has promised to share with us his collection of slides on our next visit; I can not wait. He also informed us that from now on he thinks he will start aging in reverse. Happy Birthday Axel! Here's to your 94th in 2015!