Find Your Voice workshop!

Find Your Voice Collective members have spent this week mastering the art of creating giant puppets – with Snuff Puppets – that will eventually be used for festivals and events across the south-west.

As part of the People’s Puppet Project, participants have been designing and making 12 animal-themed puppets including an Octopig, house cat, hawk, eagle, elephant, pelican, border collie and vampire wolf.

A giant trumpet – the logo of the Find Your Voice Collective – is also in the process of being constructed.

Snuff Puppets co-artist director Nick Wilson said the Australian theatre company had been going since the early 1990s.

“It’s 33-odd years of making giant puppets all over the world, travelling to loads of concerts doing roaming and main stage and also workshops called People’s Puppet Projects where we build whole new puppet shows with communities in a short amount of time and then go and present them in public spaces,” Mr Wilson said.

“We’ve done them all over the world in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, South America and regional Australia.

“We’re really excited to be here in Warrnambool doing the latest one, working with all these amazing creatives and bringing to life all these really exciting imaginative characters that they’ve come up with.”

The giant animal heads are scaled up versions of the clay models that participants created.

“First they’re scaled up, then they’re assembled like a big jigsaw and then they’re covered with fabric and then they’ll be painted,” Mr Wilson said.

The bodies of the animals are being made with the help of volunteers from the Warrnambool Theatre Company.

Find Your Voice Collective producer Kate Hancock said participants would do performance training before doing any public performances.

“There is a lot involved in being a puppeteer in terms of physicality and managing heat and stress and interaction with the general public,” she said.

“This is just the first stage of a long-term project.

“It’s designed to travel down Liebig Street, to be performed on the Civic Green out the front of WAG, at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in line with our choir and other performances.”

Visual artist Xavier Knights was inspired to create a house cat puppet which he likes to call ZoZo.

Ms Hancock said participants had looked at the concept of spirit animals, or animals they were drawn to or relate to.

“Xavier has always been house cat. It’s sort of his brand as a visual artist,” Ms Hancock said.

The puppet project was made possible with a $39,810 grant from from Create Australia, $15,000 from the Fletcher Jones Family Foundations and $5,000 from Regional Arts Victoria.

Find Your Voice Collective creative director Tom Richardson said as with all its projects, the goal was to increase visibility and challenge stereotypes.

The Standard, 31 May 2024