Woodworking is a practical skill so it’s always been needed for our very basic home comforts; roofs, doors and furniture etc. But wood is such a versatile material and there’s often an additional artistic element there that’s designed in or perhaps even left accidentally by the craftsman. At the European Woodworking show last year I met Lenka Pavlickova, a marionette maker from Prague and in her work the character of the pieces is certainly no accident. I think they’re a wonderful example of just how well suited wood can be as a route to self expression.
Lenka carves the individual parts of the body and head and connects them together using screws and leather to create a remarkably life like movement. The most striking thing about her work though are the unforgettable expressions and over exaggerated features that somehow make them more lifelike despite the step away from realism. I like how the tooling marks are left visible and transparent paints are used so we can understand where they come from just by looking and I think the personalities are a wonderful expression of herself and her country, I can imagine many of them lurking on the streets of Prague at night!
At this year’s show I was able to take this footage of Lenka carving and showing the movement of her Marionettes. There’s a face recognition feature on the camcorder and I was amused to see it flashing up on each of the carved faces – perhaps there really is life behind those eyes!
Lenka has some wonderful photos and videos on her own website: http://www.praguemarionette.com/