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Friday, 7 December 2012

White spirit and European Puppets

Hello everyone. We had the last art theory class this evening. I have written my synopsis this afternoon and finished it just after five. (the class starts at six). I have been busy with my Art course this week. Wednesday night, I did a presentation on my work. The Powerpoint application in the studio was an old version. As a result, both presenters, another girl and I couldn't upload our presentation. So we started a half hour late, and finished a half hour late. My presentation went well. Another student told me that she would like to see the world my creatures live in. She said on installation, I could use something like paintings or photos to suggest their world. I thought I might be able to do Japanese ink drawing. It might work if I could draw well enough.
Czech style puppet
But just before I started my presentation, I found my navy wool coat had a large white stain, which turned out to be oil paint. The chair I was sitting on had a splodge of white paint (because it is so dirty you can't tell if paint stain is new or old) Panic! Distress! Shock! But the tutor and other students (they are all painters) soon got white spirit, and put the coat on the floor, and scrubbed it for me. They are so kind. I was joining with a paper towel, but I was so shocked, I can't recall what I was doing (most likely not something particularly useful). I have never used oil paint in my life. The only spirit in liquid form I knew is alcohol. I was hopeless. I took the stinky coat to a dry-cleaner yesterday morning and told them that it is soaked with white spirit.

Czech style Fisherman puppet made by Jack Frost
After all that, I had difficulties to calm down. I couldn't sleep much. Before I really went into sleep, Mike got up for breakfast. I had a lecture I wanted to go to. It was on 'Masking and puppetry' in Europe by James Frost. Despite of the lack of sleep and bitterly cold weather, I went. I was so glad I went. There were lots of slides and films to see. We were encouraged to 'play' with the puppets he made and/or bought. I found it difficult to operate simple looking puppets. It requires rhythm to make their movement look natural.

Sections in the body make the puppets move more naturally

Wooden heads - mainly male characters

Sicilian puppet with a sword
In Japan we have Bunraku, which is a traditional theatre; puppets were operated by a master and apprentices visible to audiences; his cross-cultural reference was interesting. We were even shown a short film of Bunraku, which was a part of a film called ' Dolls' by Takeshi Kitano. I have always found dolls mysterious, and sometimes spooky. Humans shares the affection of dolls/figures; humans have made figures since prehistoric time. In Japan, when a doll breaks, they say it took a shock to protect the owner, especially a female owner. I suppose, dolls/figures were used as sacrifices, and the Japanese saying could have originated from this.
Hoodening- teeth were made of pebbles

Even more an exciting discovery was that there was a tradition here in east Kent of Hodening or Hoodening.
According to wikipedia:  'A custom which took place at, or in the lead-up to, Christmas in eastern Kent, involving a group of ploughmen or other farmworkers leading a Hooden Horse (a horse's head made of wood, set on a short pole, with snapping jaws (sometimes set with nails for teeth) operated by a person hidden under a piece of sacking or a stable-blanket to represent the animal's body). The custom, described as "only just extinct" by folklorist Violet Alford in 1952, has since been revived in various places.'

I have been deeply interested in folklore, customs etc. I was student of anthropology, and they are my type of subjects.  

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