Punch and Judy from the Victorians
Structure and Proposal of GARP
My interest, why I chose to study this area, what areas I will research and a little of what I know now
I will begin to tell you where my interest in Punch and Judy first came from;
My interest in Punch and Judy first developed in Year 5 at primary school where we were given a class project on ‘Victorian Entertainment’.
We looked at the children’s nurseries, the household, the seaside holidays, the clothes and many more aspects but the area that interested me the most was the Victorian Fairs.
I loved the lettering used, the range of performances and characters, the travelling sales people, the rides themselves, colours, atmosphere and of course, most importantly, the ‘Punch and Judy’ show.
From this age onwards, without being particularly conscious of it I began collecting books, soft toys, robots, ephemera and puppets either inspired or made in the Victorian period (most of these were found at the York car boot sale).
Over the years, I continued collecting gradually and became increasingly interested in them. My collection has been a major source of inspiration for my work and my puppets are often featured as characters in my illustrations.
Throughout collecting I have also been making puppets using Victorian puppetry making manuals all of which inspired by the Victorian fair. These range from a set of painted and stuffed calico, circus performers to papier-mâché people.
(Place in pictures here some of my homemade collections of puppets)
Just by looking at Punch and Judy puppet one can immediately identify what sort of character they will be purely by the way they look. I enjoy how such a small object can hold so much character and tell a story in itself. They can be used to perform a narrative, as though they are a 3D illustrations, this I find really interesting and is something I could develop further in my own work. Main section?
An aspect of the Punch and Judy shows I am really interested in is the appearance of the characters and sets, for example Punch’s big chin and nose or the bright stripes and colours on the theatres. I love the dramatic sets and how they are used in different ways. There are many variations in sets and puppets but they all seem to have the same distinct feel. How and why have they remained consistent?
I like the idea of having a portable show, like a travelling story, available anywhere, anytime. Despite the stories of Punch and Judy are much the same and there is little variation, the stories have been performed again and again. So how is it that they have remained so popular for such a long time?
The Punch and Judy show is a rich performance that is both stimulating visually and conceptually. The stories, characters and sets are distinctive and all play an equal part in the performance and this is what I think makes Punch and Judy so strong and easily recognisable. Why and how is this? What influenced the design and stories?
A year ago I visited the Pollock’s Toy Museum in London and really enjoyed looking at his collection. My interest in Punch and Judy developed further.
There were many examples of Punch and Judy characters, all different yet with the same distinctive features.
I hope to talk to Alan Powers, the Chairman of Trustees, about Pollock‘s collection and ask him some questions on Punch and Judy.
I would also like to look at Bethnal Green, The Museum of Childhood to have a look at their collection.
For my research, I will be predominantly concentrating on the Punch and Judy in the Victorian era in England, when the show was at its height of popularity.
I find it intriguing how the Victorians did not react dramatically to the violence involved with Punch and Judy shows yet when it came to social etiquette they would be incredibly prudish and disgusted if someone did not follow the rules. At times, the Victorians could be inconsistent and contradictory. Why is this?
However, today’s society is much the same. We frown upon the violence of the Punch and Judy shows yet television programmes have become more and more extreme and this seems perfectly acceptable. We seem to have double standards also.
The Victorian period was a time of extraordinary change with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, which altered the Victorians’ lives dramatically. It was an era of excitement, prosperity and frivolity. Many of the discoveries and developments and are the roots of what we have today.
I enjoy their interventions and enjoyment in embracing new technologies and using them in unusual ways. For example I like this ludicrous invention such, the velocipede shower, a shower ideal for getting fit whilst washing! Main section
(Insert picture of bike machine)
They had an odd sense of humour, which I can relate to.
It is no wonder the Victorians embraced the surreal Punch and Judy shows so strongly after all they were the ones who invented pianolas, musical boxes and seaside piers. But what was it really that made them so popular? Perhaps some of this can go in the main bit?
I am interested at looking at the origin of Punch and Judy yet this will not be the focus of the research as there are other aspects that I would like to look at in greater detail. It is relevant but not the main research element.
Doing this research is important for me as I believe that research is part of my work, whether it is conscious or not.
I am researching a subject I am passionate about and so I hope that this will filter through to enrich my work also.
I am not doing this research project to answer a particular question. I am researching to feed my brain and yours with information on this subject. I hope to be surprised and excited by what I find.