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Puppet Magic at Hove Museum

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A new exhibition opens at Hove Museum tomorrow showcasing the work of local puppet artists. In this post, Martina Bellotto talks about her work behind the scenes and the artists involved.

The Art of Puppetry. Making Magic in the Museum is a vibrant and colourful display that brings together local puppet artists with their stories, puppets, props and stage designs.

“They seem to come alive with music, light and dance. This is the art of puppetry.” Philip Sugg

It has been very exciting for me to work on this new exhibition at Hove Museum in the last four months as part of my Workforce Development. It has been great to work with puppet artists and get closer to a form of art with which I was not familiar.

All is finally coming together in these last weeks. We have worked hard on the installation and the galleries are now ready to welcome visitors and to bring them into new worlds, where imagination meets reality. The puppets come alive thanks to the talent of the puppet artist, whether they are operated by string, glove or rod.

Puppetry is a very ancient form of theatre and can take many forms, but all share the same process of animating inanimate figures and objects to tell a story. The puppet artists taking part in this exhibition tell their different tales, from the traditional Italian figures of Punch and Judy to the enigmatic Slavic folktale of Baba Yaga. They show us different ways of storytelling with puppets whether it is through simple paper pop-up theatres, the ancient form of the shadow theatre, giant animal masks or mysterious marionettes.

These puppet artists have a very strong passion for theatre and storytelling which they express through their works. Their creativity and imagination bring twists to old stories as well as the creation of new ones.

The exhibition has two areas. The first overwhelms the visitor with the vibrant enchantment of colours, masks, portable theatres, shadow puppets, marionettes, jig dolls, fantoccini, props and figures. The second projects the visitor into a mystical world of folklore and mythology. This division of the galleries came naturally due to the different sensibilities, ways of working and using materials, and the different stories the artists tell.

The Puppet Artists

The puppet artists whose work can be seen in the exhibition are:

Amanda Rosenstein Davidson
Artist, art teacher, children’s book author, illustrator and craft designer. Amanda paints and exhibits works on themes that reflect her love of theatre, ballet and performance

Philip Sugg
Art historian and retired museum educator that now collaborates with a circle of puppeteers and artists on projects that turn his childhood dreams and passion for the stage into reality.

A collaboration between award-winning puppetry director Darren East and writer/producer Beccy Smith. The duo are specialists in using puppetry, storytelling and film in participatory projects with people experiencing mental health difficulties.

Rust & Stardust
A puppet theatre company run by Eleanor Conlon and Katie Sommers. In their work they combine new writing, puppetry, costume making, music and education. They often use recycled materials and unexpected items in their creations.

Imogen Di Sapia
Brighton based artist/maker whose work ranges over the fields of textile crafts including weaving, costume and puppetry, whilst also creating unique therapeutic storytelling.

Liza Stevens
Liza is children’s author, illustrator and puppet maker. Her puppets are most often made from textiles, frequently using recycled materials.

The artists have created a close group that often works and exhibits together. Each brings their specialisation and experience to the magic to be discovered in this exhibition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by shows, workshops and opportunities to meet the artists. The first of these opportunities is coming very soon, an event open to all that will celebrate the Art of Puppetry exhibition and the other fantastic things to be found at the museum. This takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 29 May: Love Your Museum at Hove Museum.

The event will run from 10am to 4pm with a series of activities during the day for children and grown ups, such as puppet making and craft workshops, fun activities, trails and gallery resources, storytelling for children and talks for adults. There will be artists at work and the opportunity to talk with them, plus close contact with objects from the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ collection.

Come and join us for a fabulous day at Hove Museum!

Martina Bellotto, Gallery Explainer

The Art of Puppetry. Making Magic in the Museum
26 May-30 November 2017
Free admission

Love Your Museum
Monday 29th may 2017
10am-4pm Free, Drop-in

Hove Museum & Art Gallery
19 New Church Road, Hove BN3 4AB

Opening times
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat 10 am-5pm
Sun 2-5pm
Closed Wed