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Peter Smith - Lost Impossimals - The Complete Twistory

The Lost Impossimals have been a long time coming; they started way back in 2007 with a small doodle on the back of an old sketchpad when I had the idea that Impossimals, far from being a new discovery, were in fact already part of history. As I thought more and more about where the Impossimals had originated from something clicked; not just any something, but a big something and suddenly I could see in full the entire history before me.

That was the easy part. The hardest was the research, photographing, model making and collating all the material so I could then start to paint them. Early in 2008 I painted my first, the Hippocrocapig, on a second hand framed canvas found for a few pounds in an antique shop. I was hooked. Not only did the Lost Impossimals come alive but with them an entire new way of looking at a world that was bursting to get out.

Impossimalsaurus Giganticus - Lost Impossimals cover

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 - a copy of which can be found at your nearest gallery.

In 1902, Charles Burroughs - commonly known as ‘Bluster Burroughs’ and the foremost expert in the Victorian era of cryptozoology - disappeared whilst exploring the Congo. Famed for regularly capturing unknown species in the wild before the advent of portable photography, the whereabouts of his extensive collection of Defluo Impossimali or Lost Impossimal location paintings remained a mystery.

Painted on anything that came to hand during his numerous expeditions around the world, the paintings became a Victorian sensation. Exhibited widely throughout the Empire as part of the Impossisaurus Britannicas collection and viewed by some of the leading figures from the Victorian era, they are said to have influenced the likes of scientists, scholars and authors alike until their eventual disappearance in 1902 - a disappearance that coincided with Charles’ final expedition to find the lost Woolly Gullagaloo in an unexplored region of the Congo called Gwangu by the natives.

Old photograph of Sir Charles Burroughs and Sir Brantson Pickle R.A.

By kind permission of the head curator of The National Museum of Antiquities SIR CHARLES BURROUGHS (LEFT) This picture is of particular interest as it is the only exiting verified photograph of Sir Charles Burroughs. Taken in 1880 whilst in Angola on the trail of the Illuminated Fairy Furry Floopaloo. Sir Charles is accompanied in the picture by the celebrated botanist Sir Brantson Pickle R.A.

This was an expedition that Charles never returned from, prompting speculation that he had been devoured by a Striped Foofalow - an Impossimal renowned for its white teeth which it keeps in a jar when it's not eating.

Many people have searched for Charles and his missing paintings, but it was only when a young scholar assigned to cleaning duties disturbed a battered forgotten crate at the National Museum of Antiquities that the mystery began. The crate had remained unopened since its delivery in 1911, nine years after Charles Burroughs alleged disappearance. Not only did it contain the lost paintings of Charles Burroughs but also his extensive notes. Even more importantly, tucked away at the bottom, was his diaries; a collection that revealed the extraordinary life of this great explorer from humble beginnings, his rise to fame and ultimately to his last ever entry, dated July 4th 1911.

Shop for Lost Impossimals and other Peter Smith creations here at Enid Hutt Gallery.

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