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Lyndon

Lyndon WILSON

Year of Award: 1973 Award State: Tasmania None > Arts - Performing
To increase knowledge of the facets of puppetry - Japan, Russia, Yugoslavia, Germany, UK, USA
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I can say without question that being awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship was seminal to the long pathway that this young artist was about to begin.

In an emerging art form, still shackled by strong influences from Great Britain and Europe, I dared to question what I had been brought up to believe – that Punch and Judy, the fairground and sideshow alley were the foundation stones of puppetry.

In my years of being taught dance I had learned about space and movement. The puppets I had begun to play with wanted to spread their wings, to create fantastic images and share a world on stage with the dancer, the actor, the mime.

So my Churchill Fellowship took me first to Japan, where my ideas and dreams of puppet theatre were nurtured in the great classical work of the Bunraku theatre in Osaka and the amazing contemporary work of PUK in Tokyo and La Clarte in Osaka. I was fortunate to come under the influence of Taiji Kawajiri, a major contributor to contemporary Japanese puppet theatre.

In Moscow I became acquainted with the Moscow State Puppet Theatre and the work of Sergei Obraztsov. I saw again how the miniature puppet theatre had vanished and been replaced by puppet images sharing the human stage with actors, dancers and mimes. In Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) I saw again the breaking down of traditions and the birth of new forms.

My Fellowship finished in England, where I spent time with designer/puppet maker John Blundell, then of the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in Birmingham. His own professional life had been influenced by the puppet theatres of the Soviet bloc countries. He taught me so much.

Over the years I have kept up my international networks, creating residencies in foreign companies for young Australian and New Zealand artists, bringing international guests to conduct master classes, collaborating on joint projects and many other ventures.

At age 72, and 43 years after receiving the Fellowship, I am still active as a creator, performer and teacher. I left a legacy of puppetry experience behind in Tasmania, in the form of Terrapin Puppet Theatre. In Western Australia, it is Spare Parts Theatre and in New Zealand, The National Theatre for Children. Not a day goes past when I do not call upon the experiences of the Churchill Fellowship, and every day I can still discover something new that had its genesis in my Churchill Fellowship.

After years of being an artistic director – training, creating, teaching – I have come full circle and am performing again. Performing in front of children, with work that is of their world, provides me with a great source of energy – one that keeps me young.

Kingsley Fairweather, a Tasmanian papier-maché artist, told me at age 84 that he still had at least 20 years’ work in him, and that is how I feel.

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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