Buxton Festivals – Making Large Puppets

Babbling vagabonds have been lucky enough to work with Buxton International Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival on an outreach project for Primary Schools in Buxton. This project would celebrate the festivals 40th years and use Saint Saens “Carnival of the Animals” as inspiration to create large puppets.

The idea behind the project was to inspire and ignite creativity in local year 5 pupils. The outcome would then be part of the Buxton Carnival Parade in July. Then displayed around town in the lead up to Northern Chamber Orchestra’s performance of “Carnival of the Animals” during the Buxton International Festival.

The Design

Using the theme Carnival of the Animals by composer Saint Saens we decided to choose four animals from the music he created. We designed the large puppets with the idea that they would be processed in Buxton Carnival this summer.

sketch ideas for "Carnival of the Animals
Carnival of the Animals: Initial sketch ideas

How the big puppets would look in a parade

Working in Schools

We then assigned each animal to a School and gave ourselves the challenge of creating these in one day. Working with around 10 school children at a time in short sessions we were able to construct a large puppet through the course of a school day. The impact was significant. The groups who worked on the animals in the first session could hardly believe the transformation of their work. 

Fish puppets
Fish for the Aquarium
Turtle made using willow and painted fabric
Bird Puppets

Babbling Vagabonds ended up working with over 200 children, over four days, in four local Schools. The children work collaboratively and helped shape the finished sculptures. They gained new skills and were empowered by what they had created. It was a very positive experience for us as artists and the schools. It was certainly an ambitious project in the timescale but everyone rose to the challenge. We are proud of how the children worked as a team to create these wonderful large puppets.  I can’t wait to see them come to life in the carnival this summer.