I’ve recently made new hands for the Tony Liar Pants on Fire puppet, as well as some flames to accompany his smoking pants. Meanwhile he has appeared at a rally at the ANU to protest Abbott’s changes to higher education, and the March Australia protest in Melbourne last weekend.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved with the making of a giant 3 metre tall protest puppet of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, with the theme of Liar, liar, pants on fire. Matthew Armstrong, who came up with the concept, brought together the skills of a number of Canberra artists to make, assemble and perform the puppet within a pretty short timeframe. Thanks, too, to Dario Vacirca and Mark Timberlake from KneeHigh, now Open Space, in Adelaide who hired us the frame and advised us on various aspects.
The Abbott puppet debuted at the Bust the Budget anti-austerity rally on an icy cold day at Parliament House, Canberra, on 6th July. Matthew is now improving the puppet in a number of ways, ready for more appearances.
I made the head of the puppet from foam sheeting. Here are some photos of the process.
Earlier in the year I posted about a number of events involving puppets and puppetry that were being planned for the Cultural Olympiad accompanying the London Olympics, so you might like to review them now the games are upon us. Some like OverWorlds and Underworlds have already taken place, but Godiva debuts tomorrow in Coventry, and then proceeds to London over the following week. You can follow them on @GodivaAwakes.
Godiva Awakes is one of several events involving puppetry that are planned as part of the Cultural Olympiad accompanying the London Olympics later this year. It is a project of Imagineer Productions, and will take place in Coventry on 28 -29 July, and then journey to London arriving 5 August to join in the Olympic celebrations.
The project abandons how most people remember the old legend of Lady Godiva: that she rode naked on horseback through town wearing nothing but her long hair, in a deal to stop harsh taxes on villagers. Instead, this contemporary interpretation features a 10-metre high puppet of Godiva with short hair and fine robes, riding on a futuristic-looking horse which is powered along through the streets by 100 cyclists riding together in a Cyclopedia:
Godiva is re-imagined as “a new superhero for the 21st Century” (BBC), and as ‘a contemporary icon for the region, a symbol of courage, fairness, social justice, self sacrifice and sustainability who will create a unique spectacle as she walks to London to take part in the London 2012 celebrations’. She is the centrepiece of a processional extravaganza involving performers of all sorts: musicians, puppeteers, acrobats, dancers and choristers. As many of these giant puppets do (since Royal de Luxe), she awakes from another time – her previous life 1000 years ago – observes the new world, and performs a ceremonial mission.
A larger purpose of the event is drawing in community and young people in lots of ways. It also celebrates the rich heritage in engineering and innovation the West Midlands; showcases the artists and craftsmen that carry on those and other traditions (particularly textile arts): and it is hoped it will support and develop the skills of a new generation of makers, performers and event producers.
The @GodivaAwakes twitter feed is releasing photos everyday of the developing project and although they are not giving too much away, there are nice making photos in their gallery, such as the ones above.