Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
For the past while I've been working on puppets and magic for Strange Tales, a co-production by Grid Iron Theatre Company and the Traverse Theatre. I've had a great time!
It's on until 21st December, and you can buy tickets here.
The Big Sneeze
These puppets were for a story where a man sneezes out strange mouse-like creatures that eat each other and grow bigger. I researched baby mice, and had in mind a sort of tiny gremlin.
The first creature was a finger puppet.
The second creature was to look a bit older, bigger and more developed. I designed it to be operated by pulling the tail.
The third creature needed to be greedy looking, a lot fatter and quite animated.
This puppet played the role of the guest of a Taoist Priest. It had to be life-sized with enough movement to take part in the scene, but it also needed to be operated at most times by a single performer. The costume was provided by the talented costume maker, and cut to allow the control rods to pass through at the back and elbows. The final photo here is a production shot taken by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.
This puppet chases the performers around the stage. I looked at traditional Chinese Lion performance as a guide and decided to make it using as similar a technique as I could. In performance it also has a long raffia beard.
The Paper Man
This character has been conjured up by a psychic, using her tarot cards. The decoration of the puppet was inspired by traditional Chinese armour, which features large armour plates fixed to fabric garments. It has a party popper mounted inside the torso for it's dramatic death scene.
The Little Mandarin
This was a miniature parade of fifteen characters. I researched Chinese parades, carriages and the musical instruments that the incredible composer Ruth Chan was using in the score for this section of the show. The build wobbles from side to side as it is pulled along. The central carriage is used to store a portable speaker and battery packs for sound and lighting. The talented team at the Traverse fitted the parade with miniature LED lights. The final photo here is another production shot taken by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.
This character is revealed to be a ghoul that disguises itself in the skin of a girl. I don't have any photos of this mask completed, but here it is in the early stages of the process. In performance the mask is glimpsed but never fully seen, acting like an absence more than an object really.
This make was for a scene where a character gets their heart ripped out by the ghoul from the previous make, it was carved from a block of foam and decorated with a mix of silicone and acrylic paint.
Here are some snaps of variations, character designs and alternative ideas.
I am a Glasgow based visual artist and maker