Sunday, 13 October 2013

Me, My Puppet...The World

To celebrate and share the learning from Ignite I've written a resource which is now available to download from the YSP website. 
You can read more about my approach to the Ignite residency and discover lots of ideas and top tips for puppet making and storytelling with young people...or any people for that matter - puppetry is for everyone! 

Thank you to Janette Robinson and Emma Spencer at YSP for all their support in creating this resource. Also thanks to Hannah Webster for the wonderful photography. 

Be Curious about your environment...Be Inventive with puppet making and Be Together to share stories. 

Family workshop and Celebration event at YSP
Photo: Hannah Webster

Friday, 27 September 2013

Ignite Highlights

Photo: Hannah Webster
My year as Ignite artist at Yorkshire Sculpture Park has come to an end, but what an incredible year it has been! There were so many amazing moments as puppets came to life, stories were shared and gifts exchanged. Here are some of my highlights...

Year 5 children at All Saints CE Junior & Infant School in Featherstone created a storytelling event for Year 1 and Reception children.  It was fascinating to see how their storytelling skills developed when given the task of presenting their tales to a younger pupils. They became really focused on communicating the essence of the story and produced an enchanting event which delighted their young audience. 

“It’s made me realise how important it is to give children the opportunity to tell stories. We focus so much on writing all the time, but how can they be expected to write a good story if they have never learned to tell one? I’m going to change the way I do things with my new class in September, and we are going to start with storytelling.”   
Teacher All Saints CE J, I & N School 

Taking to the streets with students from Hemsworth Arts and Community College back in January took the project to a whole new level, experimenting with puppetry as a tool for social intervention and community engagement. The most striking thing for me was the way in which the young people embraced and developed the concept from the seeds I planted, sharing their observations and ideas on creating a sense of community in the town. From the initial debates came the solution of creating an event around which people in Hemsworth could connect. 

"If we do a puppet show it will be good for children, like toddlers who will come and watch and then the parents will get talking and meet new people...It will be like a little community with a puppet in the corner!" 

By the end of the week the students were performing street theatre and inviting members of the public to engage in conversation. In reflecting at the end of the week the young people were full of ideas on how to improve the experience for the public and keen to take what they had learned into planning more events. 

We were out and about again with Sandal Endowed Junior School, this time exploring and documenting a local landmark on their door step, Sandal Castle.  We used the experience as inspiration for puppet characters and stories, imagining the people who may have once inhabited the castle many centuries ago. 

My favourite moment was a conversation with one class at the end the day where the children were brimming with self belief and desire to share their skills...

"We could put a desk in the street and then people could come along and we'd show them how to make puppets"  

Ignite culminated with a week at Kettlethorpe High School working with Year 9 students. We explored the mining heritage of Wakefield, unearthing family connections to local collieries and telling stories of life in mining communities through the generations. We used the puppets to explore many forms of storytelling, with teams pursuing their own creative interests including some fantastic animation created using a smartphone app and live storytelling. 


I would like to offer a huge thank you to all the teachers, staff and young people who have helped made the Ignite programme a success. Thank you also to the Learning Team at Yorkshire Sculpture Park for their support throughout the year. I'm now passing on the baton to Sally Gilford Ignite Artist for 2013 -14 who will soon be off on her travels around Wakefield to share her passion for printmaking as the journey begins again. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

On the mend

Bobby has travelled many a mile this year, from South Kirby to Lofthouse Gate and many places in between. Time for some repairs before our final destination next week, Kettlethorpe High School.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Exploring outside

Castle Grove Infant School

We made puppets of Family members and children were following their own instincts and ideas to make a puppet in their own way (e.g. using a different method to build the body) which was really good to see. In the afternoon there was some lovely exploring of different spaces and imaginative play. The school grounds were well equipped with lots of features - wooden posts, tyres and trees, which leant itself to the activity. We made a trail of different places to visit with pieces of fabric to make tunnels, pathways and dens. Children worked together in groups of 3 or 4, made homes for their puppets to live and played with them, inventing stories. There was lots of interaction and conversation going on as they explored the space and the Class Teacher commented on how valuable it was to have time to observe the children’s interaction. In particular she noted that one child who has selective mutism was chatting away to other children.

Monday, 6 May 2013

'My Dad's got hair' and other stories

Crofton Infants' School

"My Dad! He doesn't have any hair so I've given him some now!" 
Adding the finishing touches to Puppet head 
Taking puppets outside to play, explore and invent stories 

At Crofton Infants School we made puppets of Family members which sparked lots of conversations during the day....

I’m giving my dad a uniform cos he’s got a full job now. He didn’t have one before but now they’ve give him a uniform so it means they’re keeping him”  

.....and at home: 

I heard a tale from a parent picking up their child about her daughter jumping on the bed in the morning saying "Mummy I need to know what you look like, I've got to make puppet of you today" after some close examination she said "you've got a lot of spots mum but I won't put them on my puppet" 

Gift for Castle Grove Infants
A concertina book of  family portraits celebrating their skills and talents

Monday, 29 April 2013

The adventure so far...

View Me, My Puppet, Wakefield...The World ! in a larger map

To Crigglestone and beyond!

During March I worked with three primary schools all just a stones throw from each other: Mackie Hill J&I, West Bretton J&I and Dane Royd J & I School.
With each residency we made a variety of puppets and explored different ideas around connecting to our environment and each other.

Puppet making with natural materials at Mackie Hill J &I School 

 We gave our puppets special qualities and talents  

And made a gift for children at West Bretton with messages about how to care  for this nest of young chicks

At West Bretton J & I School we imagined what would happen if the sculptures came to life at YSP  and invented some brilliant puppets inspired by Yinka Shoibare FABRIC-ATION Exhibition 

Reception & Nursery Children at Dane Royd J &I School made bird puppets with found materials  and took them on  imaginative journeys to the moon, above the clouds, to Africa and all the way home!