All contents are Copyright © Stephen Foster or are part of The John M Blundall Collection, unless stated otherwise.
Lotte was like a homely great aunt who conjured up a web of silent but magical animated images with a tiny pair of scissors. Her consummate skill in manipulating delicate figures cut from black paper, cereal packets, and pieces of thin lead, in frames containing complex choreographic movements, was due to her extraordinary sense of musicality, and her unique knowledge of the theatrical movement of everything that walked, crawled, flew swam and grew.
Lotte adored actors and dancers, particularly dancers with whom she spent many hours watching them in their performances; she even had access to the private box of Colonel De Basils for the performances of his Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo. At a young age she entered the Theatre School of Max Reinhardt, but only wanted to join the classes for the boys, because they did gymnastics. It was in Reinhardt’s school that she developed her paper cutting skills, producing tiny portrait figures with great accuracy.
Her unique skills attracted many artists, actors, dancers and film-
Lotte was a gold mine of fascinating anecdotes related to her endless exploits, many
of them re-
Lotte also related a story of her early work in film where the film maker Paul Wegener had extreme difficulties making The Pied Piper of Hameln’, mainly due to the fact that the live rats wouldn’t behave as live actors would be expected to. Lotte offered to undertake an alternative solution. I heard three alternatives, one using silhouettes, the other using guinea pigs with added tails, finally wooden rats.
I have in my collection many letters written by Lotte from the 1920s onwards to Constance, and Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, an antiquarian book and print seller who dealt with many actors, dancers and designers. The letters are often sad descriptions of hers and Carl Koch’s struggle to survive ill health, frequently with very little money, sometimes borrowing money from the Fletcher’s, and the sale of her work.
Quite late on in her life I talked to her on the patio of Jan and Ann Hogarth’s house
in Egham. I asked her what she was ‘up to’, her reply ‘nothing, I am a lazy cow now.’
After some pressure she told me that she had just re-
I first met Lotte in Munich in the courtyard of the Kunstler Haus. She was sitting talking with Lenora Gustavna Shpet, the dramaturg in the Moscow State Puppet Theatre of Sergei Obraztsov; she also had links with Meyerhold and Mayakovsky. Lenora called me over, sat me between them, introduced me to Lotte, and both of them plied me with gems of wisdom related to the various disciplines of the creative artist, how I valued these. This event took place on several other occasions until we left Munich. Shpet’s niece was the great Bolshoi ballet star, Nikitina Maximova trained by the legendary Ulanova.
Over the years Lotte frequently used her live theatrical skills. In pantomimes at The Coventry Theatre, Coventry, where she collaborated with Pauline Grant the dancer, choreographer, and producer in her famous pantomimes at The Coventry Theatre. One magical effect was her creation of the journey of the frog down the well in ‘The Frog Prince’. She created a wonderful animated film sequence that was projected on a vast screen during the performance.
Later in her life she was re-
On a number of occasions Lotte came to Birmingham to give talks and demonstrations, and show her favourite films in my theatre. She loved this annual event. She adored children, and they in their turn loved her kind, gentle and somewhat eccentric personality. Between each film she would answer questions and ask the children what their favourite animals were, immediately she would take a piece of black paper, and with her magic scissors, she would deftly snip them out, handing them over with great love and thanks for giving her so many joyous experiences just being with them.