Archives for category: Exhibition

FoPO Exhibition-4

The Festival of Performing Objects is opening tomorrow. It is an all day event for me. We have Market Day from 11am to 2pm with buskers and market stalls and puppet making for kids. Then later from 3:30 to 5:30 we have the exhibition opening with the artists attending. It was a very busy week setting up the exhibition, but Kim and I are very excited and pleased with the outcome. It looks amazing! As far as we know it is the biggest collection of puppets in New Zealand since the 1980s. What an achievement.

The picture shows Dragon by Norbert Hausberg, a Wellingtonian puppeteer with 30 years experience. Unfortunately, we only have his puppets as he himself is otherwise engaged. But his puppets are certainly something!

wooden spoons

At the Festival of Performing Objects we are going to have a Kid’s zone in the Gallery and we hope that the little visitors will take to an impromptu play. I bought a packet of googly eyes for $2 at the Salvation Army Shop, and the wooden spoons in the Everything-is-50%- off-sale at the 2-Dollar-Shop. My ethical conscience is cringing at the price, but as I am living on flour and water at the moment, I told it to shut up! For my workshops I usually make a trip to the North Shore Resource Centre to get material. This is a really good volunteer organisation that my friend Cath put me on to. They collect leftovers, recycled or surplus material and you can get a big bag of all sorts of goodies to create puppets (or other artworks) for a dirt cheap price.  The most expensive part of these characters are the squishy noses made from disposable ear plugs. Unfortunately, they only had orange ones in the hardware store.

Anyway, I got carried away embellishing them. The idea was that the wooden spoons should be really simple so that they are easy to clean. Ah well, the handles are still easy to wipe down and that is where you hold them.



Oh dear, this year seems to be the year of best intentions. I am so sorry for having neglected my blog for some time. Though it doesn’t mean the Dedes have been neglected.

You might know I have lost a few of my major sources of income at the end of last year and I have been working hard to secure new income streams. Now six month later everything came to fruition at once and this just means I am rushed off my feet to fulfill all my promises. My book of “101 recipes with flour and water” is still not finished, however, I am using it a lot, but I am stuck on 51 recipes.  My backyard chooks deliver an invaluable addition to my diet too.

Recently I have taken on a part-time teaching job. My first salaried job in 20 odd years. Even though I have been teaching for a long time, it was always on a contract basis. It seems with a salary inevitably come the politics… Something I want to steer clear off as much as possible. Navigating the foul ground takes a lot of energy. Believe me, I feel some good puppet stories coming on….

The Festival of Performing Objects is about to start. This weekend I have to deliver the Dedes I want to show in the exhibition. Every Dede is keen to pack up and go. Some of them will just sit in the Gallery for the month, while others will get action in the stop-motion workshops of the last week. I have to make a decision who is going to do what. I did a lot of work in the early days of the organisation unfortunately with all the changes to my working life poor Kim (the manager of the arts centre) had to bear the brunt of the recent weeks. She did an amazing work luring puppeteers out of the underwood. I am very confident it will be a fantastic exhibition.

It looks like we are getting quite a bit of attention. The first article about the event was published this week.

HM puppets 28_7_14

artnews ad

We are working on this event for close to eight month now and are just entering the hot phase. Tying up loose ends and promoting! Originally it was called “Puppet Festival”. The manager of the art centre and I, we are both totally excited about the whole affair. We got funding from the local council and everything seems to run smoothly except – and that is the big dampener – whenever we talk about puppets everybody’s eyes seem to glaze over. Strangely though, and I am single minded enough to do that, when you continue to talk, people do get interested in our plans.  So, we finally decided to give it a new spin and renamed it to  The Festival of Performing Objects. Admittedly it sounds much more grown-up and I actually I do love the new name.

We are still looking for artists who want to take part in the group exhibition and also for performers and stall holders on market day. So, if you live in New Zealand and want to take part, get in touch….


I had some good news recently: in August Puppet Festival at the Estuary Art Centre in Orewa is going ahead as planned. Kim Boyd, the Centre’s manager has allocated the entire month to all things puppetry. I am really excited as I hope it will show how diversified puppets can be. We have Anna Bailey, a puppeteer from Wellington, coming up for 2 weeks and running workshops on puppet making and she will also perform some of her wonderful string puppet shows. Sarah-Jane Blake a performance designer, working in the UK and in NZ will also run workshops on story development and telling. Finally in  the last week I will be facilitating stop motion animation workshops.

The Festival will start off with a buskers and market day on Saturday the 9th of August and then continues with an exhibition called “A story-teller’s world.” If you are in New Zealand and want to partake in the exhibition of puppets and other object which elicit imagination please get in touch with either me or the Estuary Arts Centre.

The bad news is that my Artstation workshop has once again very low enrolment numbers and is unlikely to go ahead. It is so sad that most people when they hear the word “puppet” dismiss it as a children thing, at least here in New Zealand.

While I was preparing my course, I came across this wonderful interview with the amazing Candadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett by Gary Friedman (also a puppeteer working on a film about politicial puppetry at the moment). Ronnie explains so eloquently here what puppets are all about, its really worth watching.

Today was the big day of the inaugural scarecrow competition at the Beach Haven Community Garden. All I can say: it was such a wonderful event. We had 15 scarecrows in the running, many of them created by groups, rather than individuals. And yes, I thought, judging scarecrows would be easy peasy… No it wasn’t. In the end I had a list of points they had to fulfill, such as being scary, withstanding weather, making noise… Looking great, wasn’t good enough, as they all did.

We were totally overwhelmed by the participation. We had 290 votes by the end of the day and I got a bit nervous, as the one I had selected for my Artist’s Choice Award, was also looking to be winning the People’s Choice Award. In the end a different one turned out to be the people’s darling. One I wouldn’t have chosen, even though it looked scary, it was made of cardboard and the first big deluge (not uncommon in Auckland) would see to it.

Here some impressions of the day.

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lartiste mitzi monkey

The rucksack must have become uncomfortable during the night and they found their way out. But they only made it a few steps to the side, to the rolled-up yoga mat. There I found them in the morning. L’Artiste staring depressed into space, Mitzi squinting up at me, I don’t know what she  is thinking, but she seems to be okay as long as she has a lap to sit on. I have to admit, I am not particularly good with depressed puppets, so pretended I didn’t see them as I walked past on my way to the kitchen. Monkey, who was right behind me, stopped and told L’Artiste in clear words he should snap out of it. Life is hard for everybody. L’Artiste said lamely, “Leave me alone, I want to wallow in my sorrow.”

Monkey shrugged his shoulders. “Ah well then, you can’t be helped!”

And I thought: what happened to my poor Dedes? They were such a fun bunch to have around. I really have to engage them in new projects.

lartiste and mitzi

As Lil’Piggy and Farmer John decided to stay at the Depot Artspace, L’Artiste saw his chance for an outing. “Pick me, pick me” he called every time our paths crossed. “Artists need new impressions. You know this just as well as I do, don’t you?”  How could I say no, particularly as he is featured in the short film that is now showing on Waiheke.  I didn’t need to think twice about who I should take as his partner. I always knew I had to take two Dedes to give a good performance. As it happened, L’Artiste got himself a Lil’Dede cat recently, called Mitzi, and the two of them became inseparable very quickly. So Mitzi  was the second lucky one to come.

We started off in beautiful sunshine here, but by the time we arrived at the wharf a blanket of dark clouds covered the sky and we could see the rain coming down over our suburb in the distance. Pretty much all day we were just a little bit ahead of the weather. It was a pity because the threatening clouds seemed to keep people away and not much happened on the island. There was a busker in front of the gallery and L’Artiste danced his little heart out to the beautiful tunes, but he just couldn’t create much interest.

He was very quiet on the way home and when we finally arrived back, he didn’t want to come out of the rucksack.

farmerjohn_lilPiggy excursion

Farmer John complained last night that our house wasn’t very stimulating. There’s no pictures on the wall and no furniture in the room where they are staying, only a heap of discarded newspapers in one corner. How can a good farmer educate his piglet? A piglet who hasn’t even learned to read yet?  I guess he has a point. I have to offer them a bit more excitement as they are the only two lil’Dedes who stayed behind when the others went overseas to Waiheke Island. Even though we have no idea whether they are having fun over there, Farmer John just assumes that, having not heard anything, they must be having the time of their lives. And Lil’Piggy and him are loosing out!

As I had to go to Devonport today, I let them tag along to see the current exhibition at the Depot Artspace, where the big Dedes had such a good time. They absolutely loved it. Here Farmer John explains the painting “Indian Spices” by Paul Burke to his mate, who is such a grateful listener. The gallery manager, Cath O’Brien, took the picture and we were both surprised how well Farmer John interpreted what he saw. He sounded quite the expert. When it was time for me to go, they weren’t finished looking around and virtually begged me to be allowed to stay. I reminded them they are supposed to come with me to Waiheke for the artist’s talk on Saturday.  But no, they well and truly had their heart set on staying at the Depot. In the end I left them there. I believe they found a nice vantage point on a shelf.  I only hope they don’t want to go to India next…

film still

Remember the little film about L’Artiste’s woes? It looks like it is going to be shown on the big screen at the Waiheke Cinema. I hope the quality is good enough. I’ve changed the ending to advertise that the Dedes are currently being shown on the island at the Upcycle Gallery and that I will have a talk there next Saturday. The Dedes are starting to take on yet another dimension.