Creative Island Ident (Teal)
The Cultural Development Agency for the Isle of Wight
Carnival artists and costume designers Joel Lines and Kira Lacey working on the hand of the puppet.

Ancient folklore reimagined as ‘Green Man’ puppet takes centre stage in Mardi Gras Carnival preparations

Sally Perry
24, May 2024

This summer, the streets of Ryde will come alive with a captivating display as New Carnival introduces a massive ‘Green Man’ puppet. He’ll be looking right at you.

Andrew and Kathy Kim, from the internationally renowned Thingumijig Theatre Company, led a masterclass in May for New Carnival’s creative volunteers and freelance artists. This workshop was instrumental in bringing the large-scale ‘Green Man’ puppet to life.

A masterclass in puppetry
Thingumijig Theatre, based in West Yorkshire, specialises in giant outdoor interactive puppet performances and has showcased their talents in over 14 countries. Their impressive work even featured in a major Disney film.

During the workshop, Carnival Artist Carol Sherman and Andrew Kim collaborated closely on crafting the puppet’s head. The sessions took place over a sunny weekend, with participants learning new skills, techniques, and insights into animating the puppet.

Andrew and Kathy, along with their dog Percy, shared their expertise generously. Reflecting on the workshop, Andrew Kim said, “Great team, nice results, perfect weather, brilliant trip.”

Debut at Ryde IW Mardi Gras
Now, New Carnival’s creative volunteers are decorating the Green Man puppet, preparing for his debut at the Ryde IW Mardi Gras parade on Saturday, 6th July. This year’s Mardi Gras theme, ‘Story of Carnival,’ explores the history of carnival across the ages and around the world.

Over twenty school, college, and community groups will participate. The Green Man puppet, standing at an impressive three metres tall, requires three people to operate. He will lead the ‘Beltane-May Day’ group, complemented by costumes worn by pupils from St Helens Primary School.

Ancient folklore reimagined
The Green Man, also known as a foliate head, is an ancient figure deeply rooted in European folklore. He symbolises rebirth and regrowth, closely linked with springtime.

New Carnival chose the Green Man to represent the enduring power of nature and its intrinsic relationship with humanity, aligning with the Biosphere Island concept.

Creative Insights from Volunteers
Creative volunteer Linda Morris expressed her enthusiasm for the workshop, saying,

“Having the opportunity to share ideas and use different mediums and tools was really beneficial. A great workshop to be part of.”

Heather Vann, another volunteer, praised Andrew Kim’s craftsmanship, stating,

“Andrew Kim is an amazing craftsman, and he was very generous to share his knowledge and skills with us. I learnt about lots of new materials and processes.”

Preparation for the Grand Parade
Three local performers are currently rehearsing with the Green Man puppet to ensure a memorable performance at the IW Mardi Gras. As the parade approaches, residents and visitors can look forward to the Green Man’s impressive presence.

He will certainly be looking out for you in the crowd – watch out.

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