A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH GIANT PUPPETS FOR STUDENTS
Prop, set and costume students from Cleveland College of Art & Design have produced two giant puppets as part of a four –day workshop with costume performance company, Creature Encounter, which will feature in the Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF).
A group of 12 students studying on the BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design and BA (Hons) Production Design for Stage & Screen courses created two puppets – named John and Vesta – based on the Instant Light story about Stockton chemist John Walker, inventor of the friction match, and Vesta, a visiting circus performer with whom he falls in love. The Instant Light story, by writer Sara Maitland provides a central theme for this year’s SIRF street art extravaganza.
The four metre parade giants were created over a four day intensive workshop at the specialist art and design college, led by puppet industry veterans Jamie Duncombe and Michael Crouch from Creature Encounter.
The puppets will feature at this year’s SIRF, a hugely popular international arts and cultural festival which is growing in popularity each year.
Jamie said: “The students have been amazing and they very switched on and focused, creative individuals. The standard of work has blown us away and it is a real pleasure to be in a room with people who are so up for it.
“During the workshop, what has come together is really exciting and by the end we have really dynamic, beautiful puppets to display to the festival visitors in July and August.
The students have been working with techniques that they know well and also learned some new techniques which will help expand their skill set. Both Michael and I thought they were all very professional, and if they choose to go into the costume and set design industry, I think they will do very well. To be at this level is very encouraging.”
21-year-old Jessica Downes from Hartlepool, who recently graduated with a BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design degree, helped to create the larger than life puppets. She said: “I really enjoyed the workshop and working together within a big group to produce such large scale models. Jamie and Michael were great fun to work alongside and seeing the giant puppets come to life was amazing.”
Eyv Hardwick, Academic Links Co-ordinator at CCAD worked alongside the costume degree programme team to bring the workshop to the College. She said: “We were offered this opportunity as part of the SIRF Community Carnival, working with Creature Encounter and Stockton Borough Council, and it has been a great partnership. We have high level degree students, who have valued and enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this innovative and exploratory workshop. It is very much a skill exchange between students and industry professionals working collaboratively to develop professional puppets and costumes and we can’t wait to see it parade down Stockton High Street on Saturday August 1st as part of the Community Carnival. “
Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, added: “We are absolutely delighted students from CCAD have been involved in preparations for this year’s Community Carnival. The students all have a real artistic flair and together have created some wonderful puppets to lead the Carnival and help tell the story of Instant Light. Their creations will certainly make a mark on Stockton High Street during SIRF.”
The workshop formed part of a wider programme of community events and workshops by Creature Encounter, funded by the Stockton Arts Development Team at Stockton Borough Council.