The Puppet Challenge Part 11: Andrew, Rima and Sarah

Andrew Grundon, Rima Staines and Sarah Young: the puppeteers in their puppets

Andrew Grundon: Andrew’s avatar

Andrew writes of his extraordinary marionette:

” Here he is… completed. I chose the satyr (or fawn) as he is as all pervasive in world folk history as the green-man or the elf. He is the melding of animal and man, a powerful beast who makes no apology for what he is. Neither good nor evil, in my mind he is the ultimate force of nature, noble yet base. A creature of instinct, honest and dangerously uncompromising. He symbolises the power that can be harnessed by awareness and acceptance of all aspects of ourselves. I hope you like him.”

I like him a lot! Having watched Andrew’s passion for puppets from afar, both on his blog and at Facebook, this elegant satyr seems evidence of the maker encoding personal iconographies… and even some physical similarities… into the creation, a characteristic I don’t think I’m being fanciful in detecting in all three of the puppets offered here today.

Andrew has an empathy with and a respect for the satyr, that is plain from both his description of what it represents to him, and from the lengths he’s gone to in order to produce something so beautifully designed and made. (That segmented and interlocking torso is quite a feat of construction.) I greatly admire the finish of the puppet. The dark, almost scorched appearance, leavened with distressed gold-leaf, makes the puppet almost timeless, and I’m reminded of some of the historic puppets, blackened with age, hanging in the marionette museums of Palermo.

Here are the stages of the satyr’s making.


Rima Staines: the puppet who sang himself into existence

Rima writes:

“I have been woodcarving! For the last few months a puppet has been in the making in my studio-on-the-other-side-of-a-trapdoor, as the summer rains and suns have lashed my windows. Puppetry, as you know, has been an art that has long sung to me, and niggled at me, and perched on my shoulder as I’ve done other things over the years, prodding me with wooden fingers not to forget.”


I’ve been in that magical place, and I can testify it came as no surprise to learn that it harboured the spirits of as-yet-unmade puppets whispering and singing enchantments in Rima’s ears, until the moment came for her to take up her father’s wood-carving tools and set about bringing them into the world.

I know that this wonderful, mystical ‘jester’… I have my doubts about that job description, as I think he’s far more a-shaman-in-the-guise-of-a-jester, than anything you’d find dancing attendance on a king or queen… is going to be the first of many puppets Rima is destined to make. If you have any doubts that she’s a born puppet-maker and puppeteer, watch THIS lovely little film. She doesn’t so much operate, as channel him. His wonder, his concentration, stillness and tenderness, are all reflections of Rima herself. Watching the puppet is like watching a version of her.

You can see more images and read more about the process of Rima’s puppet-making. HERE.

Sarah Young: fairy-tale chic

Sarah Young turned to the folkloric re-telling of Cinderella known as Mossycoat, producing this wonderful rod-puppet of a young woman who looks as though she’s been dressed by the smartest couture house. Her ‘swagger’ coat, with bracelet-length sleeves and crop-circle-like patterning, is as handsome a garment as we’ve seen at the Artlog Puppet Challenge. To set this off to perfection, her hair has been cunningly styled to suggest a laissez-faire disregard of formality entirely suited to her elfin face with its perfect maquillage. I’m reminded of the late, great Kay Kendall, who honed to perfection that free-spirited combination of the meticulously styled and the couldn’t-care-less.

Here’s Mossycoat, start to finish.

I love the fact that Mossycoat’s sheer skirt reveals that she’s completely forgotten to wear any knickers, and that the faint patterning of vegetation on her legs suggests the leafy stigmata of her dryad origins. It amused me that Andrew and Sarah both took their puppets out to be photographed surrounded by greenery, and I feel that were the satyr and Mossycoat to bump into each other, they would get along rather well, in the way that dryads and satyrs sometimes do.