In Pictures: Behind the scenes of The Hatchling
Flying high over Plymouth Hoe, a dragon the size of a double decker bus with a wingspan of over 20 metres shimmered as it flew over the coast. The beast had been unleashed!
On August 28 and 29, the city saw a giant dragon puppet take to the streets and then to the air, with Plymouth College of Art BA (Hons) Costume Production students working closely with Bristol based Trigger Productions to design and construct The Hatchling, the world’s largest human operated puppet to take flight.
Working on the team was Macie Dow, a third year BA (Hons) Costume Production student. She explained what working on such a unique project has taught her. “If you listen carefully and pay close attention you will succeed. I’ve learnt not to be afraid of asking questions as it’s so important to help you become an even stronger team player.”
Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Costume Production Marie Dunaway said: “The expertise the students have gained by taking part in this project is vital for their professional development. They’ve worked so hard and gained valuable skills in costume construction, professional practice and working to a deadline with a professional company.”
The project is the brainchild of Triggers’s Artistic Director Angie Bual and was inspired by the dragon as a global symbol, one found in stories in every ancient culture around the world. “The Hatchling asks us to celebrate our commonalities over our differences – no matter your heritage or age, everyone has a connection to the dragon. When she flies, it will be a moment for all of us to reflect on freedom of movement, and what that means for each of us. The power of public art has to unify us has never been more important.”
The dragon was constructed from super-light carbon fibre, weighing less than a piece of hand luggage, enabling a team of 36 rotating puppeteers to control her. Third year BA (Hons) Costume Production student Macie explains some of the challenges involved in clothing the puppeteers, “The hardest part of the project for me was definitely the last day I did, I enjoyed meeting and fitting all of the cast. It was challenging measuring knees for knee pads - it was very difficult but I believe we succeeded in the end!”