Ask kids who grew up in the 1990s and chances are, they watched Art Attack on television. Papier mache masks, egg carton puppets, matchbox toys – host Neil Buchanan was the go-to-guy for all things crafty, for conjuring up artwork out of materials found around the home.
Buchanan made it cool to craft, so it wasn’t surprising that his name became synonymous with Art Attack. The British host defied the stereotype that you had to be an artist to love art — he was, in fact, a musician!
Who can forget his ingenious attempts at making larger-than-life pictures of submarines out of carefully-arranged T-shirts and trousers, and even Aladdin out of “magic” carpet piles?
The “Big Art Attacks” were not only fun to watch; they were a great way of encouraging the young audience to think outside the box.
Despite being a classic in its own field, and winning a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for Best Children’s Programme in 1993, the show was cancelled in 2007 after a 17-year run on air.
Thankfully, Disney realises the show’s worth and went on to revive an all-new Art Attack in 2010.
The show maintained its tone and theme as the source of crafty inspiration. But the onus is still on the child – or parent – to recreate the magic past TV time, since it was never meant to be a craft-along show.
That being said, a review by Common Sense Media pointed out that Art Attack wasn’t just all show-and-tell.
Dedicated to helping families make better media choices, the San Francisco-based non-profit organisation said that “the host repeatedly reminds kids of the value of making each work of art his or her own, which encourages their sense of creativity rather than their inclination to copy what they see him doing.”
Some people would say that a show is only as good as its host. Buchanan has long since retired from the scene. The show has evolved and there is certainly more than one Art Attack host at any one time – the series is now shown in more than 30 countries around the world, some with their own national hosts.
For South-East Asia, the show’s upcoming S4 premiere on Disney will introduce a new host, Marco M. Borromeo from Cebu City, the Philippines.
Surely, someone who ascends the Art Attack hosting throne must know a thing or two about crafting.
In an e-mail interview, the 32-year-old actor, model and TV host reveals one of his fondest childhood memories: reimagining spare pieces of wood into toy soldiers and creating clay companions for his action figures.
It is a far cry from today’s idea of fun for a child. “Kids are more interested in having gadgets now than things like coloured papers, pens, clay and glue,” he says.
But what’s more important than having a good grip on these basic craft tools is “imagination”, he adds.
Borromeo gives us a glimpse into what we can expect this new season: star-studded projects featuring Disney’s most infamous villains from Captain Hook to the Ursula from The Little Mermaid and also a special episode on Disney Princess crafts.
Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk might just be guest stars on the show’s Big Art Attacks, and they may very well battle other Marvel and Pixar characters for some exclusive screen time.
As the show’s famous phrase goes, try it yourself!
Art Attack S4 premieres tomorrow on Disney (Astro Ch 615). Catch the show every Saturday and Sunday at 12pm.