Peter Smith’s Lost Impossimals Collection

Peter Smith is known and loved for his comical and charming Impossimal characters, but for the last few years he has been delving into history and his creative imagination to please and astound his collectors. Finally he has developed his ‘Lost Impossimals’, what started out as a small doodle on the back of an old sketchbook has snowballed into the entire historic discovery of where the Impossimals originated from and what impact they have had on our modern day life.

Peter talks about his new collection, “I became an explorer, delving deeper into history to find little slips of information that would enable me to pinpoint not only an Impossimal but also the effect it had upon history after its discovery. To give this a real feel and to embed itself in my imagination I invented two things: Firstly the fictitious National Museum of Antiquities – a place to hold the Lost Impossimal collection. Secondly Sir Charles ‘Bluster’ Burroughs, a renowned Victorian explorer who discovered, catalogued and painted the Lost Impossimal out in the field. Combined, they pulled together the Lost Impossimals over the last two years to create the first Natural Twistory.”

Barnum's Bar Bending Ringling Clipperwhip by Peter Smith

Barnum's Bar Bending Ringling Clipperwhip by Peter Smith

BARNUM’S BAR BENDING RINGLING CLIPPERWHIP
1870, Germany
A chance free ticket given to Charles in 1889 gave him the opportunity to meet the showman of the decade, Phineas T.Barnum, as he bought his ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ over from New York and straight to Olympia in London. Charles was more interested in one of Barnum’s ‘acts’ though, the only tame captive Clipperwhip – a curious animal that balances strength and dexterity into one complete unit. Now the Barnum’s Bar Bending Ringling Clipperwhip is a top-of-the-bill crowd pleaser, known as the ‘Greatest Animal on Earth’. The only previous example was a fleeting glimpse that Charles managed to get in 1858 whilst in Germany on a hunt for the Peppered Pork Pie Pig. The Clipperwhip moved at lightening speed after being disturbed as it ate horse chestnuts. It skilfully weaved its way through the trees, completely unhindered by its duality – an ability that made it incredibly hard to sneak up on. Charles had no drawing facilities to hand so he improvised and used a small metal cleaning brush from his shaving kit which he bent in an approximate representation of the Clipperwhips distinctive curly shape. When he returned to camp he made a sketch from memory and using the curly metal shape as reference. Once he had finished sketching he inadvertently pushed the papers in between the metal curl and found to his amazement the papers held together with this paper ‘clip’. A failure to patent his accidental finding led to the paperclip being taken into common usage by the 1870’s after unscrupulous companions copied it by the thousands. Charles, upon meeting Barnum’s Clipperwhip, was amazed to find that it was the very Clipperwhip that gave him the slip all those years ago. With its fantastic memory and superior strength, it was not only able to describe exactly what he wore that day, but also bent him a new bit of metal in the shape of the now common paperclip. The Clipperwhip Bent Metal Bar is now one of the most prized possessions at the National Museum of Antiquities, along with Charles’ original bit of curly metal.

Dalisaurus Surrealius by Peter Smith

Dalisaurus Surrealius by Peter Smith

DALISAURUS SURREALIUS
1890 – 1891 Figueres, Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Although it is widely believed that the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali developed his unique style over time, one cannot help but make a parallel between his work and a native resident of Spain, the Dalisaurus Surrealius. These creatures would have been quite common during Dali’s early years in Figueres as they strolled along the plains and occasionally onto the cobbled streets using a silver-tipped cane to balance. Dali’s name noticeably shares a similarity, so to does his trademark moustache. It is this evidence that has pointed art historians towards the Dalisaurus as a significant influence in his work. The Dalisaurus Surrealius captured on canvas by Charles Burroughs between 1890 and 1891, is generally considered to show that, far from being a placid beast, it created mayhem wherever it went with its ability to warp objects and melt timepieces until it was shooed out of existence in 1919, just as Dali held his first exhibition. Tired of replacing the town clock, a group of vigilantes carrying cucumbers shooed the entire herd of Dalisaurus Surrealius away to a nearby olive grove where the herd was faced with a tough dose of reality and asked to stop being so surreal. Unable to cope with the alien concept, one by one they popped out of existence leaving just a collection of moustaches which are still on display and can be found at the Salvador Dali museum in Port Lligat.

Edison’s Sherlock Sidewinder by Peter Smith

Edison’s Sherlock Sidewinder by Peter Smith

EDISON’S SHERLOCK SIDEWINDER
1874 – 1876, London
Named in honour of Thomas Edison’s creation of the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878, this slippery slithery sidewinder is also said to have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in 1887 when ‘A Study In Scarlet’ first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. Noted for it’s peculiar ‘S’ shape when standing, it sports a deerstalker hat and can regularly be seen smoking a rather ornate pipe. Charles captured his Edison’s Sherlock Sidewinder using a goldfish bowl laced with coca leaves. Returning to Great Britain he kept it on his book case for many years until one stormy night, his Sherlock Sidewinder lit its pipe and  slithered away after hearing the particularly baleful howl of a hound.

Fat Floppy Fluffs – The Giant Lagomorph by Peter Smith

Fat Floppy Fluffs – The Giant Lagomorph by Peter Smith

FAT FLOPPY FLUFF – THE GIANT LAGOMORPH
1850 – 1851, England
In 1864, Lewis Carroll attended a gallery event in Oxford at which Charles Burroughs was speaking about his encounter with one of the Empire’s least-known animals, the Giant Lagomorph (also known as a Fat Floppy Fluff). Usually only
seen around tea-time, Fat Floppy Fluffs love nothing more than enjoying a cup of tea on a summer night. Charles was recounting the tale of how he followed a Fat Floppy Fluff after discovering one on Wimbledon Common. Moved by Charles’s story, Lewis Carroll decided to write about his adventures; to make it more plausible he disguised the tale as fiction. It’s only because of the discovery of this painting years later that we can finally say that Wonderland was real. To this day, Alice in Wonderland remains the best non-fictional account of the Fat Floppy Fluff.

High Tea Hee-Haw by Peter Smith

High Tea Hee-Haw by Peter Smith

HIGH TEA HEE-HAW
1845 Jiangnan, China
As rare as a Ming vase, the High Tea Hee-Haw, when found, will invariably be in the middle of the tea bushes quietly content testing the dunkability of its recent creations. A creature with only one goal in life – to create the perfect accompaniment to tea, this gentle giant heats water in its chamber-sized body which is then mixed with tea leaves according to taste. No one really knows how the Hee-Haw creates its biscuits, but they are regarded as one of the
greatest delicacies in the region. Tea pickers used to sit near this shy beast to benefit from its warmth during inclement periods until an incident involving scolding water and a chocolate digestive in 1799 put the Hee-Haw out of favour.
Now it keeps itself to itself, but is easily spotted out in the open with its giveaway pink picnic blanket and oversized cups and saucers which accompany it everywhere. Charles used this to his advantage as he tracked the creature through
the hills for two weeks in the Summer of 1845. Eventually he managed to sneak up on the Hee Haw using a large Bourbon Cream as camouflage. Narrowly avoiding a dunking himself, Charles not only got this incredible painting but also returned with armfuls of biscuits to wondrous applause from Victorian society as the pleasures of sugared dunkable treats were received with open arms. The traditional high tea was born. Following the expedition to China and in celebration of the High Tea Hee-Haw, several companies including Carrs, Huntley & Palmer, and Crawfords formed in 1850 to produce the new biscuits based on the samples Charles returned with, although no one could fathom out the ‘nice’ biscuit which was anything but as it systematically collapses when dunked in tea. For such a creature that pursued ultimate dunkability, the inclusion of the word ‘nice’ on such a sponge of a biscuit unfortunately remains a mystery.

Lesser Spotted Neapolitan Knickerbocker Glory by Peter Smith

Lesser Spotted Neapolitan Knickerbocker Glory by Peter Smith

LESSER SPOTTED NEAPOLITAN KNICKERBOCKER GLORY
1868 – 1869, Iceland
Not to be confused with the Lesser Spotted Knickerbocker Glory, this Neapolitan-tailed hybrid was captured on canvas in 1868 when Charles first saw the creature dining on what could only be described as coloured ice which it dug out of the frozen environment around Popsicle bay, Iceland. The painting toured the Empire as part of the Great Impossisaurus Britannicas Exhibition in 1901. During its time in America, it was seen by a young boy called Frank Epperson of San Francisco. It made such an impact that in 1905, when Frank was 11 years old, he tried to recreate the coloured water sticks by leaving a glass of soda powder and water outside on his back porch with a wooden mixing stick in it. That night, the temperature dropped below freezing. When Epperson returned to the drink the next morning he found that the soda water had frozen inside the glass and that by running it under hot water, he was able to remove (and eat) the frozen soda water chunk using the stick as a handle. The ice-lollipop was introduced to the public for the first time at an Oakland ball for firemen in 1922. In 1923, Epperson applied for a patent for “frozen ice on a stick” called the Epsicle ice lollipop, which he re-named the Popsicle after the famous bay where Charles Burroughs had first seen the creature. A couple of years later, Epperson sold the rights to the brand name ‘Popsicle’ to the Joe Lowe Company in New York City and the rest is history.

For more information about Peter Smith and his work please visit

Peter Smith at Artworx Gallery

Alternatively please ring 01543 502971 or email info@artworx.co.uk
Artworx Gallery, Cedars Business Park, Avon Road, Cannock, Staffordshire WS11 1QJ.

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