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Ken Barnard: artist & craftsman

The Laurie Kenneth Roy Barnard “Ken” (1921-2015) Collection comprises puppets, marionettes, poems, drawings, painting, ceramics and correspondence files.  The collection also includes the archive of his grandfather Richard Barnard – 19th-century marionette proprietor.

After discovering his grandfather’s marionettes in the attic, at around the age of 40 years, Ken joined the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild.  He went on to become Vice Chairman, the editor of their publication The Puppet Master and received an Honorary Life-Long Achievement Award of this national organisation.

Ken Portrait.jpg

In 1991, Ken walked into the Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre for the first time and began a lifelong friendship with Malcolm and Sarah.  Each year thereafter he came to Glasgow to teach the tricks of his trade and to perform his marionette cabaret. He meticulously carved and dressed his own puppets.  He was fond of describing SMPC as his puppet “Mecca”.

The hallmark of Ken’s work was its powerful lyricism. His artistic and musical sensibility is ingrained in all his work, but particularly his puppets. He was a master carver and maker of figures, and renowned for his Clowns, Pierrots, Fagins, Cleaning Ladies and Punch& Judy characters. He loved the variety theatre and his puppet s were always accompanied by music and live dialogue and commentary as can been seen in the video Barnard On Barnard.

The range and diversity of his creativity are reflected in the quick doodles, the rhyming couplets, the vibrant drawings and the stunning colours and symbolism of his paintings. The power, passion and stock characters of his marionettes have created a body of work of the highest standard for a professional solo puppeteer. His puppets are also in Collections in Mexico, France and the USA.

Ken Article.jpg





Puppet Master, Artist,

Poet and Carver

November 1921 - May 2015

Writer:  Dr Malcolm Knight

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