member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Challenge: Puppetry

Clive Hicks-Jenkin's puppets for the 2013 performance of The Mare's Tale by Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra

Clive Hicks-Jenkin's puppets for the 2013 performance of The Mare's Tale by Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra

Clive Hicks-Jenkin's Expressionist Stair-Set for the 2013 performance of The Mare's Tale by Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra

Inspired by the astonishing emotional complexity of the interactions between Clive's puppets, his screen animations of 2D maquettes, and human actors and musicians in the 2013 performance of The Mare's Tale by the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra, there has been an outpouring of interest in all things puppetry moving around the blogosphere. The fantastic result is a new challenge over at Clive's blog, calling all available hands to get building.

Logo created by Peter Slight, curator of the Puppet Challenge. Click for Link.

In preparation for the challenge, to help with ideas and to underline the fact that there are many, very different styles and materials available to the new puppeteer, Clive has been posting (and will continue to do so) about great puppets both ancient and modern-- his site has become a veritable museum of delightful discoveries...

"The Chinese shadow-puppet tradition is said to date from the reign of the Emperor Wu in the Han Dynasty. When his favourite concubine died, he ordered his court officials to bring her back to life. An articulated ‘puppet’ in her likeness was made of donkey-skin, and the concubine was conjured for the Emperor by means of moving lamps projecting her puppet-shadow onto a screen." --Clive

"In the Javanese shadow-puppet tradition of Wayang Kulit, the word for the shadow-screen is Kelir, and just as the puppet-master is obscured from the audience by this fragile veil, it’s believed that the ‘mover of the world’, the Jagatkarana, is hidden from mortal sight by the screen that separates the planes of existence."--Clive

He tells us that though they would only ever perform as shadows on a screen, great attention was given to the colors and decorations that were considered a gift of thanks and reverence to the shadow puppet itself:

Such shadow puppets would be a logical next step for those of us who took to the lessons on maquette- building from Clive here, and took part in the previous challenge and exhibition here. (Don't miss parts II and III, following that.)
Mare Maquette created by Clive Hicks-Jenkins for On-Screen Animations during the Mare's Tale performance this year.
But, for a more three-dimensional approach, there is also the possibility of a glove puppet, like Clive's Ogre:
Ogre Glove Puppet by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
or like this Mr. Punch, by Julian Crouch:
Julian Crouch and his Mr. Punch

Then there are metal puppets, exemplified by the Theatre le Licorne's Spartacus set and crew:
Theatre le Licorne's Spartacus

Theatre le Licorne's Spartacus

Theatre le Licorne's Spartacus

And then there is always, for the bravest among us, the inspiration offered by the puppets (and their puppeteers) of 69˚S, created by Erik Sanko and Jessica Grindstaff of Phantom Limb:

As with all projects on Clive's site, this one introduces you to all kinds of inspiration, both from him and from the comments boxes below his posts, where I discovered a new artist, Jill Desborough, also a puppeteer, among other things...

Mrs. Thackery, by Jill Desborough

Mrs. Pincher, by Jill Desborough

The Crow by Jill Desborough

It caught my eye that she also had created an etching and aquatint Anatomical Alphabet, which was another challenge put together on Clive's site here.
A is for Articulated, by Jill Desborough

C is for Codpiece by Jill Desborough

I love the way she draws out the letter in unexpected details...
O is for Ornamented by Jill Desborough

E is for Eyes by Jill Desborough
And she also has this lovely Trojan Horse Statue:
Into the City by Jill Desborough

Into the City by Jill Desborough

As contributors sign up for the challenge, I am discovering a slew of new artists...

There's Rachel Larkins, who creates lovely automata:

Automaton by Rachel Larkins. The mirror shows the back side of the doll.

Design sheet and Automaton by Rachel Larkins in action:

There are the strange and miraculous creations of Hussam Elsherif:

by Hussam Elsherif

by Hussam Elsherif

by Hussam Elsherif

And there are the illuminations of Stuart Kolakovic:

Detail from the Death of King Arthur, by Stuart Kolakovic

Wenceslas, by Stuart Kolakovic 
Wenceslas, by Stuart Kolakovic

....and there are many other wondrous artists I have met before there--go and see, and take up the challenge!!


  1. magnifique billet! j'aime tout... la dernière dame animée ressemble à ta peinture!

  2. Oh Everything in this post is so wonderful! Thank you so much for the introductions to Clive Hicks-Jenkin's puppets and animations. I clicked on the links and discovered his fantastic articles. I love to see shadow puppets! The ones you've introduced to us sound fabulous and also intriguing.

    1. i'm happy you enjoyed the post--you should join us!!

  3. What a wonderful post, packed full of beautiful things; I was a bit apprehensive about throwing my hat in the ring for the puppet challenge but these wonderful artists have inspired me no end and now I'm really up for it!

    1. yes, i'm very excited about your werewolf of dogdyke!