In with the New: Meet the Latest Resident Artists at Puppet Place

Puppet Place is the UK’s hub for puppetry and animation. Our building, Unit 18, is full of brilliant artists and creatives working in puppetry, animation, film, visual arts, theatre, robotics, outdoor arts and creative technologies. In this article, we introduce you to some of the most recent Resident Artists to join our space and share more about their creative practice and passion.

Chatrapati Ākula & Kyle Hirani: Vāsthu

Who are you and what do you do?
Vāsthu is a technology house providing R&D services at the intersection of arts and robotics. We weave together our varied experience and capabilities to deliver value to clients.

Why did you move into Puppet Place?
When we left Launch Space at UWE Frenchay, we wanted to move into a place that was close to the centre, had a welcoming, warm and active community of creatives, and also had a maker/fabrication space. More importantly, the residents have been great people for as long as we’ve known them.


Chatrapati Ākula (left) & Kyle Hirani (right)

Matt Gibbs: Writer, Narrative Designer, Editor

Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name’s Matt Gibbs, and I’m a writer, narrative designer, and editor. The narrative designer part is probably the hardest part of that to pin down, it’s a term that is still being defined and refined in a number of industries. For me, it comes from my work with interactive narratives and games, whether for video and tabletop games or – more recently – art and creative technology experiences. It encompasses both linear and non-linear narratives, but centres the audience as integral to them, and focuses on the creation of all the elements, not just story, that support and enhance that. In short, it is about trust and empowering the audience – which is both fun and challenging. Alongside all of that, I also work in a variety of other mediums, including films and comics.

Why did you move into Puppet Place?
It was working on The Lost Librarian with Lizzie Johnson (designer, fabricator, and producer) and Kyle Hirani (roboticist and creative technologist) that lured me into joining Puppet Place. Together we created an interactive story utilising creative technology, games and puzzles, which was commissioned by Libraries Unlimited (as part of their Evolve programme with funding from Arts Council England) and we’re currently working on a touring version for 2021. Lizzie was already a resident and I greatly enjoyed our collaboration, plus the wider support, ethos and atmosphere of Puppet Place. It has led to more collaborations and opportunities, and a growing understanding of puppetry in its many forms.

Twitter: @matthewgibbs
Instagram: @mattwgibbs

Matt Gibbs (left) & Kyle Hirani (right)

Eloise Dunwell: Artist, Curator

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Eloise and I studied Fine Art and Curating at UWE, (next door to Puppet Place at Spike Island.) I’ve been freelance curating for a few years, but I’m ready to dive back into my own practice and re-discover my creative side. The things I work on vary from paintings to photography, music, collected items and more craft-based works.

Why did you move into Puppet Place?
I definitely love community hubs, so Puppet Place stood out because of all the amazing people working here. I’d visited Max Dorey a few times pre-pandemic as we were planning an exhibition together. Everyone we met was so polite and it was a really friendly atmosphere. I love the idea of people sharing resources and time to create amazing things!

Instagram: @lulibirdart

Eloise Dunwell

Amy Baker: Animator, Filmmaker

Who are you and what do you do?
My name’s Amy Baker, sometimes known as Wormy Baker, a stop-motion filmmaker. My films vary a lot in content and style, the only thing linking them all is that I made them. I like to stay playful and try new things. I moved to Bristol from Leicester to study animation and have been into filmmaking and craft for a long time, as well as sound and music. I like to be involved in every aspect of production, which means I’m a pony with many tricks but I’m not extremely skilled in a specific area. I’m also a dancer and enjoy a bit of yoga, which helps me to understand how bodies move and draws me to animation (the best bit!). I’m signed up to the Aardman Academy animation course due to start in May, so hopefully I’ll be improving lots very soon.

Why did you move into Puppet Place?
The first time I came to Puppet Place was for an event where Emma Windsor was doing a talk. I loved the talk, the space was full of crazy props and they had wine and snacks! I wanted to get more involved and also wanted to try writing about animation, so I joined the Puppet Place press team. I’ve been helping with the newsletter for a year now. Puppet Place was the right size for me, has a nice community and is well organised. There are fabrication areas, a little garden and best of all, a carpet!

Instagram: @wormybaker

Amy Baker

Helena Houghton: Maker, Animator

Who are you and what do you do?
I am Helena Houghton, I am a puppet maker, props maker, film maker and animator. I’m also a founding member of The House of Funny Noises, alongside Cat Rock and Izzy Bristow. I make all kinds of puppets, large and small. At the moment my focus is on short films.

Why did you move into Puppet Place?
I have been an Associate Artist for a while now with Puppet Place and decided to join as a Resident so I can work in a more social setting (or as social as it can be in a pandemic). I also wanted a place that I can spread out in for future projects as I had previously been working from home and feel like I will get more done with a dedicated space.

Instagram: @Helenahoughton

Helena Houghton (left) and her puppet-self (right)

Based in the heart of Bristol, Puppet Place offers workspace for artists and creatives including puppeteers, makers, technologists, designers and filmmakers.  Benefits of becoming a resident at Puppet Place include your own desk space, a profile on our website, advice and information, discounted rates on hire rates in the fabrication and rehearsal studios and connection with a community of like-minded creatives.  To find out more contact us at info [at], visit our website or call 0117 929 3593.

Interviews by Emma Windsor

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