Tuesday, 3 May 2016

My 4 day trip to Dorset - (Day 1 late morning cont.) - Bournemouth - The Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery - Temporary exhibition on Rituals and Revelry - Masks and Puppets from around the world - The 21st of April 2016


Before heading down onto the ground floor so as to see the temporary exhibition I sat down at the café on the first floor and enjoyed a white coffee and a local baked cookie.

Because of my fascination with masks and puppets, which I rarely miss an exhibition on I felt I shouldn't miss this one. 

Despite the fact that the room looked quite small I soon realised the exhibition was very well organised not only by geographical areas but also themes and artistic approaches, which made it a lot more complete. 

I started on the left hand side where a few African masks were in display. Masks in Africa  allow those who wear them to take on new supernatural identities - demons, spirits and even gods, which in turn enable them to enact powerful rituals. They are unique, being as diverse as the number of existing tribes. 

I then went onto the Mexican folk and Carnival masks which have always had a ritual and ceremonial function. Though most of the ones on display were dance masks carved out of wood the Mexican masks are known to normally offer a vaster range of types.

Masca or wood demon, sometimes known as Strego - Denice, Piedmont, Italy

I soon moved into the area of the puppets, which fascinate me even more, this being the reason as to why I have quite a collection of those. The fact that people around the world use them to tell stories is in itself a fascination aspect I was exposed to as a child but one which I have been exploring in the Summer courses for children.

"Puppets also act as a point of theatrical fusion which bring together almost every other art and craft. In puppet theatre the storyteller meets the sculptor, the carver, the dancer, the mime artist, the carnival performer, the actor and the musician".

Shadow screen which is said to be intrinsically related to religion, ancestor worship and shadow imagery caught my attention as well as I came across a few Kulit (flat leather puppets) whose sahdows are projected and manipulated on a large screen. The ones on display were from Java but some years ago I actually managed to buy some of this type for myself in Turkey which uses the same type of theatrical performance.

I then went onto a different part of the exhibition which displayed quite a series of marionettes from different countries, amongst which was actually one I had already been to - Rajasthan.

I did enjoy the exhibition and wish I had had more time to thoroughly look at the meachanisms of the puppets and envisage the complexity their operating positions would imply, but because I had to go back to the hotel to collect my backpack, as well as walk towards the train station get on a train and move to Wareham not knowing how long it would take I decided to end the visit without further delay.

I stopped briefly at the Museum shop and having had an idea as to what I could do with part of my puppet collection decided to buy a book on puppets from around the world for children and a few other odd things before leaving.

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