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Archive for the ‘Circus Family brief’ Category

I had designed circus characters and made each one into a string puppet out of paper. These I photographed on a set.  Rather than producing a traditional story I produced four page layouts based around small alphabet poems.  The final arrangement of these four spell out the word HELP. H is for hearts that shatter in silence, E is for elegance that withers away, L is for loneliness with a liquid cure, P is for passion that has no reward.  I edited the original photos in photoshop and layered them together with textures and images that linked to the theme.

circus family

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I built a set out of paper and kept the props minimalist as i didn’t want them to distract from the puppets. Using professional lighting and and camera I took photographs of my puppets in the various positions to show the stages of the story I have copmposed. It took a while to get the lighting right so there is a gloomy effect but without loosing the detail of the charactors. The settings on the camera also had to be specific to stop blurring as the puppets would move. The next stage will be to edit the photos with photoshop and add text.


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Because of the gangly nature of my characters I decided to try making one as a string puppet. I made it out of a wire centre with paper and masking tape. Over a few weeks I made the strongman, female acrobat, circus master, horse rider, male acrobat and the Pierrot. I painted them white and used black cotton to stitch the eyes. With the clothing I used different types of paper and stitched them to the bodies. I kept to my original theme of browns and creams which worked well in giving the characters a quirky, darker feel.






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My original drawings had been created on white paper using black in, monoprint and pencil. I added different papers in varying shades of brown and cream for the clothing and used some watercolour and coffee for the shading. I decided as my circus has an old, tatty, 20th century feel I would keep all the colours neutral and I am pleased with the effect. However I didn’t feel the characters were quirky and interesting enough so I did a couple of variants on brown paper with the character features being exaggerated further. I feel the Pierrot character is particularly effective on the brown paper.

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Julie Arkell

I discovered Julie Arkell whilst looking at the Ruthin Craft Centre website.  I immediately noticed the link to my own work and have since ordered the publication of her work from the Centre.  I really like the textures she has created and how you can see the newspaper print on the figures. I prefer her 3D work to her 2D pieces as I think the characters themselves are a a lot more effective and interesting to look at.  




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Marionettes




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The circus has been established in different ancient societies including the Romans, Greeks and the Chinese dynasty. The modern version with the tent arrived from America in the 1800s. Exotic animals have been popular right up until recently where the animal rights issues have been enforced.  Clowns, acrobats, equestrian acts and people with unusual abilities have always been popular.

 The Pierrot was a fairly modern character who was actually developed from the Italian character Pedrolino. Pedrolino was one of the many characters from the Commedia dell’arte troupes entertaining people around Europe as far back as the 1500s. Pierrot and Pedrolino were sad clowns because they were the butt of jokes played on them by other characters. Then suddenly, as a way of getting back at them, he leaps out and scares them.   

The Strong man performed acts of power to the audience, lifting heavy objects and flexing  unusually large muscles.  They would wear very little so that their muscles were shown off to their best potential.

Equestrian acts became particularly popular in Britain in the 18oos when the size of circus rings (be in indoor or as a tent) were standardized to 13-ft so the horses could gallop comfortably an impressively.  The performers would  do balancing ricks while riding the horses or would control the horse to perform certain steps. 
Acrobats would perform balancing and tumbling tricks.  The trapeze was invented in the late 19th century by Jules Leotard and it allowed performers to fly through the air doing flips, rather than being restricted to the ground. 

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