performance art

Inca owl and tumi masks


These masks were made for walk-about performances by The Fool Factory at the National Gallery of Australia‘s festival during the Enlighten Festival, Canberra, March 2014. They were themed to go with the NGA’s exhibition Gold and the Incas.

The owl design was suggested by  a golden bead in the exhibition, while the other was based on the decorative hilt part of a small sacrificial knife known as a tumi.

White butterflies

white butterfly costume


The two white butterflies body suits that I was working on last week are finished. Last Sunday one of the butterflies was out and about at the Canberra Airport Open Day. You can see more photos taken on the day at The Fool Factory’s gallery.


White butterfly costume

Unima 2008: Carnival Day

A mindblowing day at the puppet carnival: see my Flickr photoset for heaps more photos; I’ve just chosen a few here. Also Naomi and Gary have more, too, each a different take :). As far as I can see its just the three of us blogging from Unima 2008.

Cheryl Linnaker’s Yawaru gecko

Puppet Carnival Day

Joan Baixas’ masterclass present the ‘Great Laughing Mutant Project’

Puppet Carnival Day

Hersute Monsiour Telefon, the puppet I put in the Million Puppet Project

Puppet Carnival Day

Trans Faunas by Swerve Association

Puppet Carnival Day

Perhaps one of the creatures by Edith Cowan University Contemporary Performing group?

Puppet Carnival Day

Murphy’s Puppets Allenby’s FAMOUS Flea Circus

Puppet Carnival Day

Swerve Association’s sheep

Puppet Carnival Day


My attendence at Unima 2008 is supported by the ACT Government

From the UNIMA World Puppetry Festival

I’m spending the first few days here at the in Perth at the 20th UNIMA World Puppetry Festival doing the master class Making Ningyo-Joruri, given by Nori Sawa. I’m really enjoying it. Nori says his workshop usually takes a week, so we are working hard to fit it in in 3 1/2 long days. So not much time to dally on the web at the moment! One of the nice aspects so far has been meeting up with fellow bloggers Naomi Guss (who is sharing the masterclass with me) and Gary Friedman.

I’ll have some photos taken in the workshop later on, but here are some taken during the first evening.

Some of the roving entertainers, Riders, were at the Welcome BBQ and Official Opening at the Perth Town Hall last night.

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

Molly and Jacko were part of the official party and the Welcome to Country given by the local indigenous people.

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

The UNIMA poster catches the light on a lovely mild Perth night.

UNIMA World puppetry Festival

Gabrielle Griffin performing at the Transit Lounge:

UNIMA World puppetry Festival


My attendence at Unima 2008 is supported by the ACT Government

Puppetry and dancing at altitude


(photo credit: David Fletcher)

Radio National’s Bush Telegraph has audio of their April 23rd interview with Jillian Pearce (fast forward to the 36 minute mark). Jillian is a performance artist living in Natimuk, the small town at the foot of rock-climbing mecca, Mt Arapiles, in rural Victoria. Jillian and her performing arts company, Y Space, have for some years been doing exciting work with rock-climbers, dancers, animation and puppetry in ‘unusual and high places’, such as the Natimuk wheat silos, exploring images, stories and relationships with the space and land. Check out their past and present projects, and some of their video.

Walk against Warming


The Fool Factory’s Sunflower gives a unusually taciturn glance at the Walk against Warming a couple of weekends ago. I also love this one of the Rat Patrol at Cutflat.

I’m missing blogging! Heaps of things to blog about and no time to do it, is the story. I figure as far as making work goes, I have to make hay while the sun shines. Hoping to get back to it more often in December when the play I am working on has made its run.

Espresso coffee hats

Espresso coffee hats

Making these fun hats was another of my Floriade projects. I enjoyed making them and was really happy with how they turned out. They were made for the performance group The Bunch of Posers, who in this guise are called Acappellacino.

To make them I started out by making the cup shape upside down, with a mixture of a garden pot and a garden hanging basket and clay. I started paper mache-ing it, but realised that the edges were going to curl when they dried, so instead I made a pattern from the shape (you put alfoil over it, masking tape it so it stays in the shape, then cut it into sections so
it becomes a 2D flat pattern). I could have made a small model and done the same and scaled it up if I hadn’t started down the paper mache track to begin with. Once I had the pattern, I cut it out of a particular thin dense type of foam sheeting and glued it up into the cup shape.

The top cup rim and the foam is made from a circle of polystyrene, so it gives the foam rigidity at the top. The saucer is slightly thicker foam, and the rim of the saucer is a ring of a kind of tubular insulation foam that the building trade uses (its called PEF backing rod, and its like those lengths of foam kids play with in swimming pools – pool noodles they are called here. But you can buy it in different diameters if you know where to go for building supplies.) The ring gave the saucer a nice rigidity. You can see the cups in the raw making phase in this picture.

Then it has muslin spray-glued on to the foam to give it a protective surface and kind of bring it all together. Then paint, with a bit of latex added to make it stick well.

The coffee pot was made in much the same way, just from foam. I made a pattern straight from my neighbour’s espresso pot and scaled it up (what I should have done with the cup, too!). However it does have a ring of light aluminium flat bar in the top rim and a couple of aluminium bars from the ring up into the lid to make the open lid possible and strong. The steam is dacron, the wadding stuff they put in quilts, with a wire through it.

The coffee cups just sit on your head like sombreros, but the coffee pot needed a chin stap which I filched from a bike helmet.

Here’s a video of the group in action, singing “You’re the Cream in my Coffee’. On my computer the sound only streams smoothly once its played through once.

(Click on the photo)

Old Parliament House’s ‘Big Heads’ Puppets at Floriade

Floriade has been on for the last month in Canberra, and tomorrow is the last day. I went in last weekend hoping to see the Old Parliament House Big Heads. These are much-larger-than-life-sized body-suit puppets of parliamentarians from days gone by. Their usual home is Old Parliament House, which is now a parliamentary museum, where they stroll around bringing the past to life.

Last year I got photos of the original three Big Heads in the Scarecrow Drive at Floriade, having an encounter with The Fool Factory‘s alien, Solar Flare:

An altercation between Solar Flare and Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin.
Solar Flare and Andrew Fisher shake hands.
Sir Edmund Barton takes liberties with my John Howard Scarecrow

This year there are two new Big Heads, Doc Evatt and Bob Menzies. While they have been made by the same company, eRTH, these ones have a less stylised look about them, and are more realistically modelled on the historical figures they represent. I think they are really cool. I love the demeanor of Doc Evatt, and his brown suit is just right.

eRTH is a Sydney company that does innovative large-scale theatrical performances which include ‘giant puppets, huge inflatables, acrobatics, aerial and flying creatures, stilt-walking costumes and pyrotechnics’. I would have loved to see their Gargoyles clambering over the outside of buildings, or The Neds ranging through city streets. At Floriade this year, they were also present as the Waterheads, four people with their heads in tanks of coloured water, strolling through the beds of flowers.