Published on Tuesday 30 June 2020

#BCreative Artist Q&A: Jenny Ellis

Jenny and Paper Bird

As part of Going Green 2020, we had a chat with Little Wing Puppets Artistic Director, Jenny Ellis, about the very special puppet show The Owl's Apprentice, inspiration and the future.

Describe Little Wing Puppets in one sentence:

Little Wing Puppets is driven by the love of telling stories that speak to children, make them laugh, and share our skills so they can create their own worlds through puppetry.

Tell us what inspired you to create The Owl’s Apprentice?

I was sitting in a Japanese restaurant and there was a picture of two owls, one big and one small, sitting together on a branch. I thought "Owls aren’t born wise, you know, they have to learn it from somewhere," so the idea of the owl school, where owls learn to become wise was born.

What artists inspire you and/or influenced your work?

Jenny trained with Master Puppeteer Richard Bradshaw through the national Jump mentoring program in 2011. She is constantly inspired by his witty pieces as well as the work of Lotte Reiniger, an early German pioneer of shadow puppetry and silhouette animation.

What will audiences get out of the performance?

The Owl’s Apprentice is a creative starting point for a discussion about what it means to live well and to live wisely. The show explores the idea that wisdom is the accumulation of all the little things you learn every day. Throughout our lives we fill a “backpack” of wisdom, a collection of life learnings we gather and carry with us. The show is also a celebration of Australian Animals and their unique characteristics such as the Lyrebird, the Wombat, the Platypus, Echidna and Kookaburra. It also serves as inspiration to further explore the art form of shadow puppetry

What’s next for you?

We are currently working on a roving puppetry piece, which is a Time-Traveller from 19th Century Australia, who augments a Lyrebird, turning it into a time machine. The Lyrebird’s ability to imitate sounds makes it an ideal device to capture ideas from the future and take them back to the past. The Lyrebird would mimic sounds it hears in real-time, allowing the audience to interact with it. The development of this project is being supported by the City of Melbourne.

This project is part of Going Green 2020

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