WORKSHOPS AND COMMISSIONS
I have made hundreds of masks, some for commissions, some as experiments, but mostly for specific productions that I have been directing/ performing in. These have included many exaggerated caricatures (Commedia-esque) based on comic strip or cartoon, some half-animal or completely animal, some tragic (based on famine victims), surreal masks (teapot and teacup), some full head and naturalistic, some just noses/cheeks/forehead or hair. I made a range of larval (Basle carnival) type masks that I use in teaching and have played with the idea of an ‘anti-mask,’ in which the head of the wearer is shown (as second toe) but the body is covered ( the rest of the foot). This led into the creation of huge heads that concealed the wearer’s head and torso (The Bigheads). Early masks were made out of selastic (plastic resin on a fabric base, used commercially as a shoe stiffener until it was banned). Latterly I have used mainly latex with fibre-glass matting, which gives a suitably skin-like effect, which can be modified to give various degrees of elasticity.
Because of the complexities of interaction between shape, movement, style, materials and making methods, I rarely do short making workshops. I used to teach mask-making for an A level course and the whole process would take two weeks. A week may be possible but it leaves little time for introduction and the all-important review – seeing the result being animated. For periods of one day or less my lecture-demonstration is an effective, and popular, quick way to inspire and explain the importance of form over decoration.