North East Connected

A Close Encounter with Giant Puppets for Costume Students

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 16.04.56Prop, 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.”

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