As part of the ‘Creating Carnival Illuminated’ artist development programme I produced a series of puppets for Mossley Light Festival 2017. These were based on a local legend about two giants, Alphin and Alder, who battle for the affections of Rimmon the water nymph. I worked within a team of 7 core artists and this was a shadowing opportunity so the puppets were designed by experienced artists and produced by the ‘Illuminated’ team which consisted of myself, Mel Roberts, Kate Rothery, Ian Jones, Ellesse Young and Lizzie Rigby.
Alphin and Alder were designed by Mike Green in the traditional lantern style of withies and wet strength tissue. Their costumes and hairstyles were made by the ‘Creating Carnival Illuminated’ team. Chris Anderson of No Eyed Theatre lent his hand to the decorative elements of these giants, painting the features and adding their unique accessories! They measured around 5 metres each and were illuminated for the nighttime parade. These giants were so giant that they were pushed on trolleys custom made by Mike up the steep hills of Mossley.
Rimmon, designed by Tony Mason, was a very different and beautiful beast and she was constructed using a variety of materials and techniques. Her face was sculpted from clay and then cast in fibreglass, her hands wire and her body a mix of fibreglass rod, aluminium and dressing fabrics. She was worn on a backpack, made by Tony, and was piloted by a backpack wearer and two puppeteers for her hands. We dressed her in light reflective fabrics such as organza and sequins which lent themselves to her ‘watery’ demeanour and swaying movement. She was illuminated by some carefully placed lights in her head, hands and body.
In addition to the giant builds I, along with the ‘Illuminated’ team, designed and delivered a series of community lantern making workshops with schools, organisations and community groups in Mossley. The participants lit them on the night and carried them alongside our giants and nymph, fully immersed in the ‘Tale of the two giants’.
Unfortunately Alphin, Alder and Rimmon along with many other puppets were lost in a fire at Ray Mill in March 2018.
You can watch a lovely video about the ‘Creating Carnival Illuminated’ project below.