The Roald Dahl Festival, Aylesbury

Posted by
The Roald Dahl Museum
Posted on
3:00pm, 15th July
Charlie, Museum
The parade at the Roald Dahl Festival

On 5 July, Willy Wonka and some giant sweets paraded through Aylesbury town. Artist Holly T Burrows describes the lead up to the big day.

I was thrilled to be asked by the Roald Dahl Festival organisers to work with artists Will Howes and Lizzy Mooney on creating some giant puppets with groups of students from three Aylesbury secondary schools (Mandeville School, The Grange School and Aylesbury Vale Academy) for the Festival parade.

The secondary school students were faced with a big creative challenge - to produce 15 gigantic puppets in one week using techniques that many were completely unfamiliar with. This year the puppets were made with willow, tissue paper, a bit of bamboo and lots of hard graft and imagination.

The students learn to project manage and work effectively in their teams to a real-life creative brief. With help from Lizzy, Will and myself, the students worked their ideas up from drawings, to plasticine models and then to the final willow sculptures.  It's tough to get them completed within a week and so when the puppets finally come to life, there’s a huge sense of achievement.

I allocated characters and objects from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory randomly and we worked together to create drawings of how the puppets should look. I really enjoyed seeing what the students came up with, which was often nothing like the images I had in my head!  

Will Howes found it ''a wonderfully refreshing experience – the students become so involved in the making process and it's a great opportunity for them to show their potential, especially with the challenge of working in three dimensions.” 

Lizzy Mooney reported that “there were tears, there was laughter and that was just me!” and that her students “were fab and created some super skillywiggling puppets”.

 Anxiety set in as the forecast for the day looked miserable. However by some small miracle the rain stopped just as the parade started and then poured down again just as the parade was ending! Fortunately, the crowds had braved the weather and it was brilliant hearing people exclaim 'Oh, it's Willy Wonka!' and 'Look at Augustus Gloop!'. There were so many cameras snapping away, we all felt like celebrities.

Holly is a freelance artist as well as the Roald Dahl Museum's Visitor Services Supervisor and Outside Events Coordinator. Find out more about Holly and her work on her website.

The puppets begin to take shape...

Making puppets for the Roald Dahl Festival Some of the puppets for Roald Dahl Festival

Some of the students with their finished creations.

Making puppets for the Roald Dahl Festival Making puppets for the Roald Dahl Festival

The pupils and puppets wow the crowds during the parade through the town centre.

Making puppets for the Roald Dahl Festival Puppets at the Roald Dahl Festival parade Puppets at the Roald Dahl Festival parade

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