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An interview with Georgia Hill

Georgia Hill is a freelance designer and maker of puppets, props and costumes based in the North East of England. Georgia is one of our 'North East Making Assistant Placement' holders and under the direction of Andrew Kim of Thingumajig Theatre is one of the four lead artists creating Tyne Rising. Read on below to find out about Georgia's work and involvement in the project...

Georgia Hill with a self-portrait puppet

Laura Firby, our 2021 Events Producer Intern, caught up with Georgia Hill to find out about her work and her journey into puppetry...

You are a designer/maker of puppets based in the North East, but how did you get here? What has your journey been, what first sparked your interest in puppet making?

I have been attending theatre in the North East since a very young age and I believe my passion grew from there. I think one of the first puppet shows I saw when I was tiny was at Northern Stage and I came away with a spoon I had decorated into a puppet and was thrilled. I got involved backstage of theatre as soon as I could. Whilst at school, I volunteered at my local theatre and helped to make props and set pieces which is where I really fell in love with the buzz of being involved with a production. It was at university that I chose to specialise in puppet making.

Characters from Roald Dahl's 'The Twits' made by Georgia Hill

Where have you trained and developed your skills, what have you learnt whilst puppet making?

I studied Design for Performance at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where I developed skills in costume, set design, props as well as puppet making. I’ve found it really useful having a really broad skill set as with puppet making you have to draw on all of those skills!

I am constantly learning; I love it and I know I have lots more to learn. As every puppet I make is completely different, I always learn something new along the way. I often like to experiment with different materials and making methods, I love the challenge of repurposing everyday objects and turning them into characters.

I’ve now been working freelance for 2 years and looking forward to what future challenges bring!

What is your personal favourite piece of puppet theatre you have seen?

It’s so hard to pick one piece of puppet theatre as my favourite because puppetry is all so different and impressive in different ways! I remember one of the first pieces of puppetry I saw that really inspired me was Horse and Bamboo’s Hansel and Gretel. I thought the way they used puppets and the space to tell the story was mesmerising.

I saw Royal De Luxe’s giant puppets when they visited Liverpool – the scale of the puppets was amazing and they created such a buzz in the city.

On a totally different note, I’m also a big fan of the Muppets and went to see them at the O2 arena a few years ago. It was a dream come true being able to see the usually hidden work of the puppeteers bringing the characters to life.

'King Koschei' from Stravinsky's 'The Firebird' by Georgia Hill, RMCMD Orchestra | Royal Albert Hall

What would you say defines a classic Georgia Hill design? What has been your favourite creation so far?

I like to create things that make people smile or laugh so anything with a bit of a humorous edge to it is very me. I think a classic feature of my work is putting big cheesy toothy grins or a funny expression on my puppets.

'Merkel' by Georgia Hill

My favourite creation so far is probably my woodland creature puppet, Merkel. He is a bit of a passion project that started during lockdown. I made him to look as though he lives in the local woodland area and I take photos /videos of him in the environment to share online. I love to combine fantasy with reality. The community have really engaged with the character which is very rewarding.

I also have a huge fondness for a giant ogre puppet I made. The puppet toured around Wales with an orchestra and even performed at the Royal Albert Hall, so I associate that puppet with some really amazing experiences and memories.

Georgia's Giant Rainbow, created during lockdown to bring some joy to the local community

You are currently working alongside director Andrew Kim on 'Tyne Rising' for this year’s Moving Parts: Newcastle Puppetry Festival. What are you looking forward to in the creation process and the performance itself?

I am very excited to be working with everyone at Moving Parts: Newcastle Puppetry Festival! I really admire Andrew Kim’s work and I can’t wait to work with him. I look forward to learning new skills and absorbing his knowledge. I’m thrilled to be involved with the creation of a spectacular piece of outdoor puppetry in Newcastle!

Georgia working on a template for a fish costume as part of Tyne Rising

What advice would you give to young puppet makers based in the North East?

I would recommend building up as many skills as you can, from sewing, sculpting, using tools, drawing etc, it is all so useful at different times!

I also recommend getting involved in theatre and the puppetry festival! Moving Parts Arts have provided so many great opportunities to learn and see different forms of puppetry. It is a great way to be inspired whilst having lots of fun.

'Mooncat' by Georgia Hill for touring theatre show by Carl Wylie

For more of Georgia's work, visit her website and follow her rainbow adventures on this Facebook page.

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