Inside the Collection

Puppetry and George Gittoes

Collection, Powerhouse Museum

I thought I’d share with you a few more photographs of the puppets that were made by Australian artist George Gittoes, with the help of his mother Joyce Gittoes, around 1970. The group relates to an earlier acquisition of material which includes a recreation of the Puppet Theatre.

This amazing collection of puppets was acquired recently as a donation under the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. The puppets belong to a larger group of works called the George and Joyce Gittoes Yellow House Puppet Theatre collection which includes a collection of 13 puppets, 3 framed gouache and texta paintings, 5 ceramic sculptures by Gorge Gittoes and his mother Joyce Gittoes (I’ll blog about these remarkable works next time) and Gittoes cathartic set of 24 Hotel Kennedy suite etchings of the late 1960s. The handmade puppets are amazingly theatrical works which encapsulate Gittoes early interest in story telling through drama, live action and theatre, a passion and obsession which has led the artist to some of the most dangerous and remote parts of the world in recent years. All of the puppets are two sided and many, like the Joy Hester and Albert Tucker puppet from George’s ‘Artist’s wives’ series, are two faced and their liquid polystyrene profiles are often quite scary.

Collection, Powerhouse Museum

One of my favourite puppets from the recently acquired series, is what I refer to as George’s ‘Big Bird’ puppet. Made of soft stuffing in an oil painted canvas bird shape, it has wide outstretched wings and long skinny legs, with two loops on each wing for the puppeteers directional sticks. A loop behind the head has fishing line attached for hanging the puppet to display. This remarkable bird was designed and made by Gittoes in Sydney between 1968 and 1972.

Collection, Powerhouse Museum

Gittoes is now an internationally renowned activist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film ‘The Miscreants of Talliwood’ which was filmed in the Peshawah area of Pakistan, has just finished a successful showing at MoMA in New York.

During the showing, George featured as the daily ‘Connector’ on CNN’s ‘Connect the World’ blog. You can go read some of the questions that were thrown at George on that day if you go to the CNN blog.

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