Weird world of the Crowman
MEETING The Crowman, aka Steve Haywood, is something of a surreal experience.
Clad in black and with more than a passing resemblance to Count Dracula, he seems rather sinister, especially when you hear he has a loft full of body bags containing an assortment of his friends from Stonesthrow village. But kids love him and so do grown-ups judging by the reaction to his exhibit in the Village Focus area at the Royal Show.
There, pausing only to toss a coin into the washing machine based wishing well and press the wish-and-go button, all reality is suspended on rinse-hold as you meet the scarecrow figures of The Crowmans creative and quirky imagination.
See how close together the Red Sparrows fly. These members of the British Scareforce had come straight to the show from the scareport. Dont expect to know the invisible scarecrow again unless you recognise him by his crutches and boots and cover your eyes as you pass the nude scarecrow, its embarrassment covered with only a fig leaf.
"How farmers can leave all those straw bales naked in the fields for everyone to see I dont know. Disgusting!" mutters The Crowman.
The vicar, Pope Hooray, is not to be trusted. "Hes not really a vicar, but he smells nice," confides Crowman, as he introduces Radger Badger, who collects badges, in sets.
I have never looked back since I bought this, is the legend on one of the exhibits – a rear view mirror – and it sums up the success of The Crowman. He no longer has to revert to being Steve Haywood, master builder, since the characters he created for his own children have caught on with the public.
The population of Stonesthrow village in the district of Not Far, now numbers 150. The scarecrows take turns to go on tour with him and rest up in the body bags between outings.
Some star in a new book suitable for five-to-95 year olds and rumour has it that a television series is in the pipeline. One thing is certain, once met The Crowman is never forgotten and he can be seen again at the NAC during the Town & Country Festival, Aug 23-25.
Just one of the family – baby scarecrow fascinates a visitor.
Stonesthrows version of the paparazzi (above) is no snappy dresser. The Crowmans creations include a wooden snowman for all seasons (top right) and a nude scarecrow.