Monkey marionette, carved wood

Monkey marionette, carved wood

Monkey marionette
Carved wood
Gair Wilkinson
England
1920s
Museum no. S.120-1987

This monkey puppet is called a marionette because it is operated from above, by strings attached to a control bar. It was carved by Gair Wilkinson who was inspired in 1914 by some toy Italian puppets to make some himself. He started his career as a professional puppeteer by touring England in a caravan with his brother Walter and performing with his carved puppets. Walter Wilkinson went on to concentrate on the revival of glove puppetry, while Gair continued with marionettes. By 1928 he had carved a remarkable set of marionettes, illustrated on the flier for his show, which are now in the Theatre Museum, including the monkey and Marino, Pagliacci and Pimpinella, and Harlequin and Columbine. Gair Wilkinson was the artist Arthur Wilkinson. After he married Lily Gair, they became known as the 'Gair Wilkinson Marionettes'. He later assumed the name Gair Wilkinson professionally.