Puppet making has many, many steps. In terms of the creative process, but also emotionally....
If I like it or not!
Sculpting the heads, the hands, the feet/shoes. Assembling the bodies. And for this project, of course there is two of everything. Herself, and her reflection... (A disabled puppet sees her dancing reflection in the mirror)
Seeing these bodies side by side. In all their nakedness, a friend commented on how this also represents my story. The story of illness, of disability, of fragility, of a broken body in a way.
'But', I said'. 'They will be dressed, of course!'
But isn't that a story in itself.
The assembling of the bodies, the painting, dressing up and all, covers up the reality of a fragile body. A puppet body which can not function without support. Support of strings, and glue, and wires and a cross to manipulate movement. My body, which can not fully function without the support of mobility aids, of society, of friendships...
Putting it all together
Last week I started painting the heads, hands and shoes.
A process which is divided up in four stages. Two different undercoats. One 'wash' with watercolour paint, and finishing off with varnish. Before being attached to the body for good.
|box of painted body parts, paint, brushes etc|
The puppets became little beings.
I just love this photo of the puppet (its reflection) showing off the new socks.
I think there is a sense of fragility in it. But also a huge sense of pride.
|I think this is one of my favourite images.|
In the last few days I have started to work on the clothing.
|Clothing cut, and yet to be sewn and fitted|
Oh, how I wish I could just stay in the studio, and finish the clothing. And not be in tears from the pain if stay any longer than 15 minutes behind/near the sewing machine...
I am re-learning how to find the best posture, use the most appropriate chair, and most of all, to set my alarm.
So, all in good time, one day at the time, one small step at the time, the girls are getting dressed.
And while I work away on the puppets, Dominic Fee is working on creating the movement of the puppets. I love collaborating with an artist of such calibre.
|Holding herself upright with her walking sticks|
|Saturday's session: first shirt in the making|
|Jimmy: "At last I made it onto a stage!"|
Jimmy, my at least 25-year-old puppet, has travelled to Cork to be a 'stand-in' for the 'girls'. And how proud he looks!
The 'stage' is Dominic's art: "DLV (DIMENSIONS, LOCATION VARIABLE) is a modular, interactive, open-ended artwork, made in 2013, consisting of several hundred wooden components which can be assembled together in many different ways."
|Jimmy with Dominic Fee's DLV artwork|
The DLV artwork proved to be an incredible platform to facilitate the movement of the puppets. Dominic first trial had Jimmy move his arms, with the help of a small motor, and strings leading from the puppets via the DLV structure.
Watch this space for updates!
Art and reality
Over the years I have come to realise that my art reflects the stages of my life (with illness). Usually after a work has been completed. Sometimes I see this only years later... Reflections of growth, of hopes, challenges, and desires.
As this puppet project had a four year lead in period, in which my health took many a challenge, I can only hope that the movement, the stepping out, shown here, will in some way reflect my own present personal reality: the wish, and ability to dance.
At least let me trust the reflection in the mirror - the movements which are possible in my mind's eye.