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Puppets for Peace & Judy

As participants will be invited to make the puppets for Peace & Judy throughout the workshop at Tate Exchange (as part of the associate's programme) on 11-15th April 2017, we decided to make a few that we would be able to use as examples during the week at Tate Exchange, and also so that there would be some puppets there ready to play with. During a visit to the Valleys last week, Jess (CCCU) and I worked with Anne, Rachel and Nadine (Valleykids) to finish the Peace & Judy stall and create some puppets.

The first image depicts a sketch of what material to use for puppets. The original idea was to stitch together a plain puppet with velcro on it, which participants could attach different features in order to create/design their own puppet. The advantage of doing this was that we would have more control over the design of non-violent props that the puppets could use. However, the disadvantage of this initial idea was that it would take more time to create and they would be reusable, meaning that participants wouldn't be able to take them home afterwards. Anne, therefore, suggested wooden spoons. Having a box full of wooden spoons would mean that there would be plenty for participants to transform into puppets and also take away with them or exchange with other participants etc. The disadvantages of this second suggestion is that we wouldn't have much control over the design of the puppets or the props, as we wouldn't be able to create features or props without it taking up too much time, and buying wooden spoons in bulk appears to be quite expensive. In order to solve the latter, I suggested cutting up a length of smooth planed timber into bits that we could use as the puppets, which works out about a third of the price for wooden spoons.

The question of control over what designs of puppet or prop is produced, then, could either be communicated through instructions, or an invigilator or facilitator, or simply left. By doing the latter, with only the name of the stall to go on, we could see what participants assume is OK to produce, according to whatever conditions they have for peace and non-violence. Which, could further participant's thought beyond the initial representation of the stall's peaceful idea, by creating another moment for thinking about the conditions they have for peace and non-violence.

With all these concerns to think about, we felt that we needed to participate in the process of creating the puppets ourselves in order to find out how we would play out these concerns. The last three images depict our process of puppet making. I discovered that it was much easier to play around with clichés, as I have done before in my PhD drawings - where I look to the conclusion of What Is Philosophy?, in which Deleuze and Guattari (1994) talk about (science, philosophy and) art as operating between chaos and opinion/cliché - using clichés enabled me a way to convey a peaceful/non-violent prop that is recognisable to the puclic.

*Sketch was created on 7th February 2017. Photographs of the process of making the puppets were taken on 20th February 2017.

Puppet making at Tate Exchange:

The Puppet making table was a permanent feature throughout the four days at Tate Exchange. As an interactive stall, participants were invited to use the materials available to create new puppets. They worked alongside members from Anne's art group (see photograph 5) to create designs for new puppets and props according to the conditions they had for peace and non-violence.

Throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday (13th, 14th and 15th April), the young people of Valleys Kids performed regular plays of their reinvention of Peace & Judy with their puppet creations. The public who viewed these performances were then encouraged to take inspiration from the storyline and characters to create their own puppets and non-violent plays.

Below is the signage used for the stall:

"Come and reinvent the famous puppet show Punch & Judy! In Peace & Judy, participants are invited to play out a non-violent version of Punch & Judy.

Create your own characters to star in the new show! These new puppets and props should be designed according to whatever conditions you have for peace and non-violence. Please find the available box of wooden spoons and other materials for participants to transform into puppets.

Puppets can then be used in a new performance of Peace & Judy in the puppet theatre, played out by participants. Puppets can then be taken away with participants, exchanged with other participants, or left for other participants to use."

*Photographs 4-7 were taken by Jason Pay on 12th April 2017.

*Blog was updated on 15th May 2017: information and photographs of puppet making at Tate Exchange were added.

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