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Puppet - Marionette of a clown
  • Marionette of a clown
    Shillabeer, Mary, born 1904 - died 1992
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Marionette of a clown

  • Object:

    Puppet

  • Place of origin:

    Edinburgh (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1980 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shillabeer, Mary, born 1904 - died 1992 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Balsa wood, paint, fabric, metal, leather, ribbon, feathers and sequins

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mary Shillabeer

  • Museum number:

    S.143:2-1993

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Marionette of a white-faced clown made to perform with a circus horse, from of a set of circus figures made by Mary Shillabeer. This balsa-wood marionette was carved and operated by Mary Shillabeer in the 1970s and 1980s, a vivacious artist and illustrator who trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts but only started carving marionettes in her 70s, carrying on well into her 80s. She especially loved the ability of puppetry to combine painting, sculpture, music and drama, and made these near the start of her career as a carver and puppeteer. They were exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy in 1976 and performed at the Netherbow Theatre and the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh. Great attention to detail in the carving and in the dressing of the marionettes, especially the horses, has made them marvellously lifelike.

Mrs Shillabeer created various full-scale marionette shows, some of which appeared during the Edinburgh Festival, including Peter and the Wolf, Boite a Jou-Jou (The Toy Box), and Babar the Elephant. Other puppets by Mary Shillabeer are in the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh and at the Little Theatre in Biggar, near Edinburgh.

Physical description

Carved wooden marionette of a white-faced circus clown wearing a conical white hat, white shoes, a baggy-sleeved white satin shirt decorated with red sequins ending in red satin sections from the ankle to the wrist. He holds a green feather in his right hand and wears a bell around his neck. With seven strings, a rudimentary control bar, and a hole in his right foot which fits the spike on top of the horse with which he was made to perform. (143:1-1993).

Place of Origin

Edinburgh (made)

Date

ca. 1980 (made)

Artist/maker

Shillabeer, Mary, born 1904 - died 1992 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Balsa wood, paint, fabric, metal, leather, ribbon, feathers and sequins

Dimensions

Height: 293 mm, Width: 195 mm, Depth: 65 mm

Object history note

Mary Shillabeer (1904-1992), the maker of this figure, trained as an artist and illustrator at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and moved to Edinburgh in 1942. She started making and manipulating marionettes in her 70s and made this set near the beginning of her career. She made various full-scale marionette shows such as Peter and the Wolf, Jou-Jou, Commedia dell'Arte and Babar the Elephant, some of which are now housed in the collection of the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, the Purves Puppets Little Theatre in Biggar, near Edinburgh, and Ian Turbitt Puppets in Glasgow.

Descriptive line

Marionette of a white-faced clown made to perform with a circus horse, from of a set of circus figures made by Mary Shillabeer

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

A Tribute to Mary Shillabeer. Animations, April/May 1993

Materials

Balsa wood; Paint; Feather; Metal; Leather; Ribbon; Sequins; Cloth

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Sewing

Categories

Scotland; Entertainment & Leisure; Puppetry

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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