return to the mari lwyd

With the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale at the Hay Festival now behind us, and with the presentation to the production team of Mark Bowden’s music for The Mare’s Tale imminent (28th June) it’s time for me to submerge myself once more in all things Mari Lwyd. I have another puppet to build, one that must withstand a watery environment (more on that later) and so I’m now researching materials and techniques ready to start the process of making a Mari Lwyd of the type that so frequently appears in my drawings: a rampaging, anatomised quadraped. (See above)

The form of the paper maquette (see examples above) has provided me with a fantastic starting point for visualising the Mari Lwyd, and it’s now decided that those ‘preparatory’ figures will be making appearances in The Mare’s Tale in pre-filmed rod-puppeteered sequences and as stop-motion animations. But now I have to produce a workable three-dimensional figure, and the starting place, as always for me, is in drawing. My desk right now looks more like some mad inventor’s workbench, with metal mesh, wire, epoxy-fillers, discarded vacuum-hose, flossing-tape and thin polypropylene sheets awaiting my scalpels, wire-cutters and modelling tools. This is all quite seat-of-the pants, so it’s just as well I find it stimulating to be in unknown territories.

12 thoughts on “return to the mari lwyd

  1. This is going to be interesting, an underwater puppet, is it for the slow motion effect in water, or the foggy ethereal effect of seeing through water, will you colour the water, or use transparencies in the puppet, or weights to stop it floating … hmm too many questions in my head.

    • Ahhh, now you’re asking, though I fear I must hold back a little in my response as I want to get some puppet-building and camera tests carried out before revealing too much about the plans. But you’re absolutely in the right direction with your questions!

    • I can see that they are quite scary. Well, The Mare’s Tale is a ghost story of sorts… or a tale of the past impacting the present and bringing with it a darkness that unravels the central character, so terrifying needed to be an aspect of it. But we hope that the scariness will be watchable, and that we won’t have too many people in the audience shielding their eyes from the action!


  2. I expect you will know of it already but mod roc is fab and quick for modelling its the stuff they make plaster casts out of. We use at school with an armature of silver foil its good for modelling and lightweight, and can be painted with acrylic after making it waterproof. It’s not going to be a long lasting thing but useful if you wanted a quick way of seeing how it would look.

    • I know mod roc and have worked with it, but I’ll mostly be using plastics for this particular project. I had a good day of shopping in Cardiff yesterday, and have returned to Ty Isaf with loads of interesting materials!

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