Throughout April and May we’re visiting cities across Scotland with a totally new kind of project for Puppet Animation Scotland. Part-visual arts exhibition, part storytelling art-walk, audiences can stroll around the city and experience moving landscapes, created by some of Scotland’s most exciting creative talent.

RESTLESS WORLDS was born out of a desire to create a project in a completely different kind of way. Almost all our usual activity involves getting people together in small, enclosed spaces – something that the pandemic won’t allow us to do. We started with the question: how could we present a performance without human beings? The core of our work is to support and champion artists who bring things to life, who create motion and drama out of the inanimate – this line of thinking led us to the two worlds of kinetic sculpture and the moving image.

Trials of Bliss by Chell Young

Scotland has a strong existing automata tradition, with Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre based in Glasgow and the House of Automata in Forres (who have previously worked with MANIPULATE) however, this is the first time we’ve commissioned new artworks by Scottish artists in this area. We had a whopping 73 applications to our commission callout back in Autumn and unfortunately could only select eight works to present. The artists whose work you can see as part of the exhibition come from the broadest range of backgrounds: puppetry, sculpture, filmmaking, theatre, generative design, writing, object theatre and set design.  They include some of the most experienced makers in Scotland alongside some exciting new voices. The artists have created eight compelling worlds, each telling their own unique story through the interplay of moving sculptures or images, intertwined with rich soundscapes and stories.

Image: A Rock and A Hard Place by Gavin Glover

The original narrative seed of inspiration came from Bocaccio’s Decameron (1353), where ten strangers shelter from the Plague and pass their days by telling stories to one another. The idea of escapism and other-worldliness resonates strongly in the final works, some of which speak directly to the crisis we have all been through, and others which seek to help us escape from it.

Image: Mr Holdcroft by Jessica Innes

The stories can be experienced either in audio form or in BSL, and we worked with performers Bea Webster and Ciaran Stewart, in collaboration with interpreter Jo Ross, to bring the artworks to life through sign language. Bea and Ciaran collaborated with each artist to develop versions of the audio worlds which are bespoke for D/deaf audiences offering a creatively responsive, integrated and tailored experience for all audience groups.

Here. We’re not. by Samuel Watterworth

Whilst the project was designed for the COVID-19 era, it has proved a really exciting and rich area of artistic growth for the organisation, expanding the ways that we collaborate with artists and allowing us to reach audiences in different ways, which we hope will continue beyond the pandemic.

Find out more and book your RESTLESS WORLDS tickets here.




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