Archives for the month of: May, 2013


The King took offense to what I said. He didn’t like the picture I painted of him. It never occurred to me  he would read my blog. He surely must have his advisers who do the reading for him and hide any unfavourable news. Ah well, maybe Lap dog ratted on me, I don’t know.

“Put her in chains and take her away. I never want to see her again” he thundered with his booming voice. “And anyway, she has fulfilled her duty. I have my new clothes and won’t need her services again any time soon!”

“Okay then” I said. “If this is your new tune, just wait until the exhibition. You might be the first one to go!”


I spent a lot of time with the King lately while I helped him into his new clothes. And yes, I do like the King. He is a fun guy to be around. There is no doubt he is a giver and he is very benevolent to his subordinates. He gives freely but he is not a sharer. I would advise you to never ask him a question. He won’t give an answer, at least not a straight one. Instead, he wiggles and squirms and tries to put the ball back into your court. I finally figured out it is all about control. After all, he is the king and he is the one who rules. Unfortunately, every so often he has to make it clear that he doesn’t have to justify himself. If he wants something he has to get it, no questions asked!

exhibition flyer.indd

Yesterday I had a meeting with the curator of my exhibition. It really hit me then that it is only a month away. I have to fill a room and 30 meters of wall space. What a luxury…

I spent today creating my promotional postcard. I love this image of Fairy Godmother and Devil. They look like they are sharing the town secret, and it didn’t take me long to decide they will become the pin-up couple for the exhibition.

ArtistatExit0 made a brillant comment on the blog yesterday. He suggested that if some of the puppets sell, maybe the new owners could contribute to the blog by sharing how their Dedes fare in their new home. I love the idea of having a real Dede community. I am not sure though if the blog is the best platform to accommodate such a community, or whether face book would be more suitable. (I am still not particularly familiar with face book). I will mull it over and hope to have something in place before I sell the first one. It would be exciting if the new owners of the Dedes  would be willing to participate every so often. And it certainly would make it easier for me to part with them.

I want to include parts of the blog into the exhibition. After all, I have 30 meters of wall space to fill. (The puppets will sit on plinths so visitors can walk around them). At the moment I am thinking of having two electronic frames side by side. One showing images used on the blog and the other one showing the matching text. I am not sure if it will work. That is something I dreamt up recently, but haven’t investigated further. And this certainly doesn’t fill 30 meters!

On the two Sundays during the exhibition I will have puppeteering workshops. It became clear in my conversation yesterday that when it comes to playing with puppets everybody just assumes it is for children. Personally, I enivsage the puppets sitting on grandmother’s bookshelf rather than in the kiddies’ toy box. I explained this to the curator. Today I got an email from her telling me about a conversation she subsequently had with some people from U3A (University of Third Age). They seem to be quite interested in the puppeteering idea. Oh, there is still so much to do. For now I am happy that I recovered my spirit from the bottom of the toy box!


Oh, how I have missed making up stories! I spent the entire weekend working on the puppets and I have finished three more characters and have plenty more in various stages of completion. The new additions are the king, the freeloader and the lap dog. I have the best intentions not get too attached to the new puppets as they will be for sale at the upcoming exhibition. So I am deliberately not giving them names but they still tell me their stories while I sit there shaping their features. This one here reminds me of the common dormouse. She has a cute little face and you just want to cuddle her. Her skin mainly shows parts of vegetables. So she is focussed on the food that she tries to score for free. Fortunately she doesn’t need much. And now I am already attached to her!

king copy

OMG it is a week since my last post! The week flew by. I have no idea what kept me so busy, but I seem to be constantly on the go. I started making new puppets last weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t finish any. The King really wants get out there. He is already preparing his maiden speech. I hope he doesn’t think it is his given right to rule all the other Dedes once he is finished.


Thank you to all my dear readers who are still bearing with me. I had no idea how draining house alterations can become. Don’t get me wrong, so far we haven’t had any major catastrophes. The builders are extremely pleasant and there is really nothing to complain about. It’s starting to look more finished, but the novelty has definitely worn off and it is dragging on a bit. The abode is still drafty and winter is approaching fast. It gets dark early now and the nights are pretty cold. All I want to do is curl up and hibernate and wake up again when it is spring time.

Unfortunately the exhibition is only six weeks away. My new book is not progressing at all. I have to admit the renovations and the cold have killed my creativity :). Nevertheless, today I set out to make new puppets. I finally decided to create a new lot especially for the exhibition and I am going to sell these. So I set up a make shift studio on the washing machine. When I had the first puppets ready for drying – you will not believe this – my trusted old oven decided to up and die. It is a very old thing and I was expecting its demise soonish. To be honest, we have already bought a new one, but of course this will be only delivered when we are done with the renovations. At the moment we neither have a floor in the kitchen nor a staircase to get up there. The old oven could really have been more accommodating and lasted another six weeks until the exhibition is in the bag. Now I have to find another way to speed dry the puppets. Otherwise I won’t have any new ones ready for the exhibition. Each puppet takes at least four rounds of modelling and drying. And the drying process can take ages, particularly at this time of the year as I can’t rely on the sun to shine. We don’t have any heating at the moment either. It would be futile with all the holes we still have in the floors and walls. To keep warm we have to put additional layers of cloths on.

leave skeleton

Lil’ Sculpture has finally made his decision. He was sitting up on his bookshelf observing the Dedes closely and you should have seen the Dedes’ faces when he announced his decision. His choice was Deutsch Fraulein (German girl). How on earth did Lil’ Sculpture come to the conclusion she would be an outsider? Beats all of us really. But anyway, he is convinced and stuck to his guns. Deutsch Fraulein played hard to get and didn’t want to answer in the beginning. She doesn’t want to have her photograph taken either. We don’t have many pictures of her, even though she was one of the earliest Dedes and she has this wonderful smile.

Recently she has taken up photography as a hobby and she definitely prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of the lens. So she made a deal with Lil’ Sculpture. She will answer his questions if he puts up one of her photographs instead of a picture of her. Lil’ Sculpture didn’t have a problem with that at all and so the deal was sealed.

Here are the questions and her answers:

1. What makes you unique?

Deutsch Fraulein: Oh dear, can’t you tell? I am different! I have this birth mark on my forehead. It is very clearly a German flag. You know, I should have been someone else but this birth mark has ruined everything. It really hindered me from becoming what I really should have been. Did you know that originally I should have been the Dede Princess?

2. Do you consider being unique a curse or a blessing?

Deutsch Fraulein: In my case it is a curse. I have to carry an historic load through no fault of my own. If I’d been the princess it would be a blessing. People would respect me for my status.

3. What is the most difficult thing for you to cope with?

Deutsch Fraulein: I have no home. I have no roots. I was born here, but I am a foreigner. People take one look at me and know I am not from here. But funnily enough, if I moved to Germany I would be a foreigner too.

4. What do you like most about your uniqueness?

Deutsch Fraulein: I could do without my bloody uniqueness. I want to be like everybody else. I saw a doctor to find out whether the birth mark can be removed, but no, there was nothing he could do. I have to live with it forever.

5. If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

Deutsch Fraulein: A magic cap! An invisibility cloak. Something I can wear to become invisible.


A terrible storm has popunded the area for the last three days. The wind was howling around the corners of our half finished house. Not the kind of weather you want to go out in, particularly if you are not water proof. So the Dedes huddled together in their corner, while I had to brave the weather. Lil’ Sculpture, back in his vantage point on the book-shelf, tried to decide who he will put his five questions to. His idea was to identify a puppet who is a Dede, but still an outsider within this otherwise homogeneous society. When the idea first came to him he thought it would be easy to pin point a candidate. Now he realises there are a few contenders. In fact they are all more or less outsiders to some degree.

Then he wanted to question Clay Head, who used to be a Dede but turned into something else. Clay Head had obviously left the community by choice. Unfortunately no-one has seen Clay Head since the move. It might be that he has left the Dedes for good. Alien was his second choice. Of course an alien must be different. But watching closely how they all interact Lil’ Sculpture became aware Alien is well established in the Dede society. He is the life and soul of every party and doesn’t  give a toss about what everybody else thinks. Even if he is an outsider, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with his role. Then there are others who desperately want to be different, but are not so. They are like any other Dede.

As the Dedes are bored sitting in their little corner all day they are now starting to pressure Lil’ Sculpture and warned him if he doesn’t make up his mind soon, somebody else will take over and ask the next questions. “You can tell you are not a Dede” Socialite said unkindly, “Dedes don’t take so long to make decisions.”

He begged them to give him another day. He has short-listed three candidates and he will make up his mind by tonight.

This week I’ve seen the first promotion for the Dede puppet exhibition, which will be at the end of June in the Depot at Devonport (Auckland, New Zealand). It was printed in the Gallery’s quarterly magazine. The blurb reads as follows:

Dietlind Wagner, Dede puppets 22 June to 4th July. Opening Saturday 22 June 3pm to 4:30pm

In a hyper-communicative world Dietlind Wagner slowly transforms old news into her vibrant colourful character heads,  Dede puppets.

For Wagner, these sculptures are a vehicle to express introspective views on interpersonal communication. Her puppets are designed to charm, bewilder and even repulse thus inspiring reflection within the viewer. The puppets uniquely sculptured and collaged faces allude to the fractured personalities in the fast paced world of modern-day communication. The stories they tell are homage to real friends and real people with all their flaws and idiosyncrasies. Being a very private person Wagner has not exhibited extensively but her puppets have managed to tease her out into the public. An installation of five puppets was selected into the finals of the 2012 Wallace Art Awards.

I’d better get back on track…I am meandering a bit at the moment!

When I arranged the exhibition, I knew I was cutting it a tad fine with the renovations that are going on in my house. The Dedes didn’t even exist, when we started planning the extension two and a half years ago, but the physical build started in February this year.  Silly me, I didn’t expect the actual build to impact on my psyche. The whole thing is supposed to be finished at the beginning of June. Has anybody ever finished in time?

house2 house

The pictures here are two weeks old and the build has progressed since. In the meantime everything is wrapped in building paper and the cladding is nearly completed. Soon we will have a staircase going up to the first floor. The floor boards are still missing though. And yes, we are really living on the site. Under the remaining black tiled roof.

lil interview

The first set of questions L’Artiste had thought up were clearly geared towards me. I thought the idea was to ask non-specific questions, but then, I am not taking part so it is none of my business. Anyway, L’Artiste disappeared again to come up with new questions for Lil’ Sculpture. No, L’Artiste isn’t the fastest runner out of the blocks but finally, finally, he was ready to present our mascot with his questions.

1. You are obviously an outsider, but having said that, is there anything you have in common with the Dedes?

Lil’ Sculpture: We are all made from recycled materials.

2. What sets you apart from the Dedes?

Lil’ Sculpture: I am cut from a different cloth. I am made from  polystyrene and twigs, while they are made from newspapers.  I am just dumb padding, while they carry the knowledge of the world in them.

3. Outsiders often have a better insight. What do you think about the Dedes?

Lil’ Sculpture: They are a great lot. I certainly wouldn’t say anything bad about my hosts. It was generous of them to take me in, otherwise I would have landed in the big skip. I will always be grateful!

4. What is your biggest problem being a minority?

Lil’ Sculpture: I can’t really complain. I have become their mascot. I have found my place. I am convinced this is the best job I could have landed here. On the other hand, to be really honest, it can be a little depressing to think that this is the best job I can achieve here. It is very clear this is the pinnacle of my career. This is how close I can get to the Dedes. I will never be one of them. I am only their mascot and when I am depressed it feels belittling. They obviously don’t trust me to make a good decision. As a mascot I get blamed when things don’t work the way they should and I am not allowed to offer any suggestions.

5. What is your biggest dream?

Lil’ Sculpture: I hear I am not the only polystyrene sculpture. There are other ones out there just like me. One day I would like to catch up with some of them. But then, I am also a bit scared as we grew up in different places. We might look the same but there is a chance that we have absolutely nothing in common. As long as I don’t meet them I can dream on!