Fall has been filled with varied work and it seems versatility and the mental agility of an octopus are necessary for me to make a go of it as a freelance artist/mask and puppet designer. This fall I've made huge masks and normal-sized masks, I've made masks I've designed and masks that were commissioned, I've made small puppets and medium-sized puppets and designed eight-foot-tall puppets, I've made clown noses for a university class, I've taught mask and puppet making to children and adults, I've had a show of my masks, I've made watercolour and collage illustrations for a play, and I've puppeteered. Surely I'm missing something.... I love how challenging and varied freelance work is. I'm seldom board, but what's made my work life even happier is my recent discovery of Hoopla (I know, I'm the last person to discover it). This weekend, I will finish listening to The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery and after that I'll listen to Kraken by Wendy Williams. Yes there's a theme here....
Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for supporting the Enormous Elsewhere's Eating Animals with Exhibition Assistance Grants. Eating Animals is an installation piece by me and Alexa Fraser. Alexa and I took our piece to Atlanta, Georgia for XPT 2017 at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and we had a blast.
Wow. Spectacular. A few days ago, I went to Ottawa to check out a giant dragon and a giant spider created and operated by the French company, La Machine. Somehow, miraculously, we managed to get really close to the dragon when it woke. Later, we bumped into the spider as it roamed the downtown. Spotting the beasts on the city streets throughout the afternoon was quite neat.
Currently reading: Billy Budd and Other Stories by Herman Melville and Rod & Table-Top Puppets by Hansjürgen Fettig.
Currently listening to (obsessively): Arcade Fire's Everything Now.
I recently returned from the New England Puppet Intensive in Williamstown, MA. It was pretty fantastic. I met some interesting people, I ate lots of good food, and the setting was dreamy. I also learned a great deal, most notably how to carve wood, how to make a lantern, puppet mechanics, and painting techniques. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the movement and puppet manipulation portion of the intensive. Not a comfortable area for me, but it brought a lovely tranquility to my body at a time when I greatly need it. Back home, but still thinking about the intensive and dreaming of future projects.
Making life-size puppets is very hard but also extremely rewarding. I picked up many tips on making big puppets when I was in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago at XPT at the Center for Puppetry Arts from Michael Harrison, whose puppet play, Coyote Love, closed the show. It featured two beautifully-made life-size puppets. My puppets aren't as elegant, but I had fun making them. I love how puppet making employs so many skills - sculpting, painting, engineering, haircutting, etc. These puppets are for Shotgun Wedding in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It runs June-October.
By Wednesday, a day off and then straight into a few mask commissions. I do love my work.
Still reading the Angela Carter biography, still listening to the Bombay Bicycle Club obsessively, but mixing in a little RL Burnside and the Talking Heads. Always the Talking Heads.
I spent the last two days in a workshop for the play Virginia Wolf with my collaborator Cole Lewis and our dramaturge Jessica Carmichael. Cole and I are combining our writing and visual talents in our adaptation of Kyo Maclear's beautiful children's book. Today, actors Sochi Fried and Mina James joined us in our exploration of the script.
The workshop was immensely helpful, and by 10:30am, I was teary, by 6pm emotionally shredded, but in a good way, and in a way that will inform my drawings. The book and play are about days that you and/or people you love feel wolfish. How far do you go with them? How much can one's wolfishness take over?
It depresses me (intended) that mental health is one of the subjects that's still somewhat taboo. It's not socially acceptable to speak freely about our own dark days, the days when the wolf gets the best of us. Sometimes I think (to make a broad generalization) that we are too quick to deny our complexities, which is understandable. Our motivations and desires and sadnesses can be strange and frightening beasts.
Currently reading: The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography by Edmund Gordon.