Photos of the Carnival in July 2016

For the 3rd year, the gallery organised a carnival with giant puppets, live music, poetry, art and bubbles. The weather wasn’t on our side this year on Saturday 23rd July. Below are photographs taken by Bernard Young and edited by Karen Cropper. To see them larger, click on one.

Carnival and Open Day

If you are in Barmouth, we hope you will join us on Saturday 23rd July for our annual Carnival Day. There will be family activities during the day in the gallery and Talbot Square. If you would like to take part by being one of the giant puppeteers, please contact Bernard Barnes (07767862382) before the event to volunteer. Similarly, if you want to be involved in making puppets or the puppet theatre or you have some other performance that you want to do.

10:30 am Puppeteers arrive at the gallery.

11 am – 12 noon Talbot Square – giant puppets dancing including dragon, giant bubbles and live music.

In the gallery for the rest of the day, these activities will be taking place:

  • Various music performances
  • Caricatures with John Ruskin
  • Still life with Reyna
  • Calligraphy with Hakim
  • Puppet workshop with Sue
  • Poetry with Bernard Young
  • Puppet show

This is a chance to sample a variety of artistic activities, maybe have your caricature sketched, or join in one or more of the workshops.

4pm-ish Puppet Parade through the town (weather permitting). From the gallery, along High Street, round the harbour, past Bath House, along promenade, over the level crossing and back to the gallery.

The day’s events will be concluded by live music from Andy Wickett’s World Service . See separate entry for more information. During the day, members of World Service will also be performing acoustically, and so will artist and event organiser Bernard Barnes and friends, including Gwynfor Morris, Welsh baritone and bluesman.

The day time and evening events are both free, but with voluntary donations towards the running of the gallery.

Video of Puppet Parade from last year:

Giant Puppet Dance – Calling for Puppeteers


Fancy being a Puppet Master? We are experimenting with creating a Giant Puppet Dance Group, to perform, initially, at the Puppet Carnival on July 23rd. The aim is to create simple round dances that can be performed by these giants. Hard and hot work, but could be a lot of fun.

First meeting will be on Friday 15th July at 7.30pm in St John’s Hall Gallery, Barmouth

Just turn up if you’re interested.

Volunteers Wanted for Help on Carnival Day 23 July

appeal for help poster

Are you available on Saturday 23rd July to participate in the carnival at the gallery and to parade through the streets of Barmouth? This is the 3rd year that the gallery has held a giant puppet parade and carnival. If you want to perform during the day or in the evening, any music, poetry, puppetry, dance, theatre or magic, anything creative, please get in touch to be part of the programme.  To get a flavour of what happened last year see pictures here and video below.

Seeking Volunteers to Help with Giant Puppet Making


During August St John’s Hall Gallery will be busy preparing for the Large Puppet Carnival that will walk through Barmouth on August 26th.
THE CARNIVAL HAS BEEN POSTPONED but we are still looking for volunteers to help with puppet making (more info).

Volunteers are needed during August to help build the large puppets.

Last year’s carnival procession can be seen on YouTube.

We will return to the hall for a day and evening of interesting events – performances and entertainment.

We encourage groups to form and create their own puppet for this event. Let’s get together and make something hum. Come and see what we are doing. Make suggestions. A sort of Madi Gras of large puppets would liven the procession up a bit.

Barmouth Puppet Theatre Project

At the same time we will be running puppet workshops where you or your child may like to help build a puppet theatre, which will perform its play during the carnival. We will make puppets, scenery and the theatre itself. Think of a simple play, write the words, and make the music. The more children and parents come the more puppets we will have to use in the theatre.

Puppet workshops will take place on Thursday and Saturday between 2pm and 4pm.

Cost per person £5

Bring old clothes. We supply all the materials.

Maybe this will become a puppet festival.

Please call in to the gallery for more information or ring 07767862382.

Video of the Giant Puppet Procession on the Gallery Open Day

The short video clips are available now to view all the way through on a YouTube playlist:

Thoughts on the Puppet Workshop and the Carnival



  • All the masks to be larger than lifesize, with costumes, enabling humans to be inside.
  • All the characters must be mobile, so that we can form a procession and walk down the street.
  • There will be a series of workshops, announced to the public, where people help to make large papier mache heads. Other people will be involved in sewing the costumes.
  • Collect some ideas for figures

Automatons for publicity

I am trying to design an automaton that could be stood in the street anchored, (temporarily) to a lamp post or telegraph pole. They could be left around the town in various spots, but only for a few days, and then they would be re-tethered elsewhere.
The idea is that these little objects invite a passersby to turn a handle. An unseen mechanism causes a head to arise from the box-like object and at the same time its arms will rise akimbo. A sort of wing like thing can be trailed to the lower edge of the arm, something that folds back into the slot of the box.
At the height of the head, with a lot of neck showing and the arms straight out, there is a click and the handle stops while the head and arms return to folded position back in the box. At the base of the box, near the creature’s feet a little door opens and a printed card is deposited on the floor. It is an advertisement for the gallery.
Feeding this creature with little cards will enable us to see how successful it is being at attracting attention. Outside the box will be brightly and gaily painted.
This is only the prototype. All sorts of variations can be designed.
Stoutly made and firmly tethered, I guess these objects should stand a lot of ware. It will be interesting to see. Care must be taken to see that they cannon cause harm.
In this way, among others, we can arouse interest in the Gallery.
So far I have come up with an idea of how to construct a flat 4’ high box that contains a sliding wooden section with a place for a head. Some of these components are now cut out, but I am designing on the hoof. It is curious to observe the way the mind gophers about inside the gormenghast of our minds and comes up with a bright idea. It is very invigorating to be forced to think outside the box, to enter completely new territory, how to make a crank lift a weight, how to use that lifting to power other processes that may be triggered later. Much can be accomplished with string, pulleys and weights in this respect. The use of rocking bars, cams, counterbalances, springs and so on, are engineering problems that the puppeteer endeavours to manufacture in wood, with a few bars and wheels of metal.
The process requires vision, foresight, not with too much precise, but a goal a nirvana. It depends entirely on our ability to imagine, to throw a world view forward in time, into indeterminate space, and envisage a new reality. That facility, it seems to me, gifts us humans a great power. We can circumnavigate evolution by thinking out the pitfalls, foresee the niches and go for it, for the jugular.
I suppose that there is a selective advantage in having an imagination, just as there is a selective advantage in being, or be susceptible to being, a believer.