Month: July, 2012

Why Puppets?

I have always been fascinated by puppets.  There has been a longing too, to make figures, whether they were the soft toys and dolls I made incessantly as a child, to the sculptures I now create.

One of my strongest memories of childhood was the knowledge that for a birthday (can’t remember which now but maybe 8th or 9th) I had asked for the game ‘Buckaroo’. Still available today folks!  It consisted of a plastic donkey that came with a set of brightly coloured accessories.  These objects represented what the creators of the game identified as typical items a donkey, in 19th century mid-west  America, would carry: pick axes, buckets, ropes etc. The object of the game was to load these objects one by one onto the patient donkey until, at some point, between the distribution of weight and some carefully concealed springs, the donkey would lower his head, raise his rump and kick his back legs into the air thus rejecting all the paraphernalia.  

I wanted, not the game, but that little donkey that seemed to come to life, and who had movement quite unconnected to human hands.

So what is it about puppets?  Why are some of us drawn to them and why is it that some find them so threatening and intimidating?

In a conversation with E. H. Gombrich, Anthony Gormley remarks:

          The basis of our whole relationship to the world, as babies or toddlers, is that we make no distinction between animated and inanimate things.  They all speak to us; they all have a kind of character or voice.  If you think back to your childhood, not only toys but most things which you encounter have this very strong character or physiognomy as Beings of some sort.  (Mitchell, W.J.T. (2000) Anthony Gormley London:Phaidon)

I wonder if, for some people this thought that most things might have this trait, then the possibility of them ‘coming to life’ might be one of the most frightening things imaginable.  For myself, it is one of the most exciting things imaginable.

My first puppet – a Pelham Witch.

Tidal Margins

The production of a report in 2010 by the Crown Estates, “ Art

as a tool in the support of the understanding of coastal change 

in East Anglia”, began a discussion on how contemporary artists

and writers could respond to the evolving coastline in a creative

way to stimulate different conversations and experiences for

those who live and work in the area as well as those who are

drawn to visit it.

Tidal Margins is a three year collaboration between artists, writers and photographers to re-map the Suffolk Coastline.

Tidal Margins aims to complement the Crown Estate report that looked at over 200 artists and the work they produced between 1770 to 1940.  The legacy of the paintings and prints made it possible to follow the evolving shape of the Suffolk coast.  Tidal Margins aims to explore a contemporary sense of place, continuing in the footsteps of these artists.

The Suffolk Heritage Coast is constantly evolving with the actions of natural forces in particular, the sea – there is a short and urgent timeframe to capture for future generations, its power, its history and its inspiration.  Landscape is an essential component of people’s surroundings.  It is an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage.  It is a foundation of their identity.  Therefore, more than ever, there is a need to interpret and value contemporary landscape anew.


Orford Ness – July 2012


Covehithe – January 2012