Halifax’s very own puppet master to bring art to life at downtown gallery

Deserie Murphy, Special to Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - Smiles cross faces as kids pull their parents over to the glass of a downtown Halifax art gallery as they curiously look at the cuddly, cute, full of personality puppets starring back at them.

Artist Pamela McInnis poses with some of her creations at Argyle Fine Art.

“If somebody walking by stops and smiles, that’s worth everything.” said puppet maker Pamela McInnis. “I love that in this digital age, kids of all ages, adults alike, still find it nice to be involved with something engaging the imagination.”

The puppets are ready to become part of an interactive exhibit called PLAY: An Art Show That Celebrates the Act of Play at the Argyle Fine Art Gallery on Barrington Street in Halifax.

The exhibit opens Friday at 7 p.m. with the puppets selling for between $40 and $120.

“It’s odd to have puppets in an art gallery sort of frame, but they’re still art, in their own right,” she admitted.

You can use your imagination to make them more real, to even make them your buddy, said McInnis. They are just a thing that’s sitting there, until you play with it, as soon as you do, it takes on a life of its own, said the recent Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design graduate.

“All the puppets, they’re all a little surly, they’re not necessarily made for children, I kind of make them for adults but kids just love them,” said McInnis. “Unless they’re scared of them, which is maybe only about five per cent.”

Over 150 people and animal puppets were made in the last two years by McInnis. She calls them puppet dudes, and Friday will be the first time they will be showcased in a gallery.

“I’ve been on this journey of trying to figure out what it is that I’m supposed to be doing with my creativity,” she said. “As soon as I made my first puppet I was like alright, shows over, I got this, I know what I want to do now.”

Multitasking by making five or more puppets at a time in her living room studio, McInnis said the puppet dudes take about 34 steps and a few days to be able to finish.

“They’re the kind of casual guys that would just crash on your couch.”

The next step for McInnis will be creating puppet comedy videos for YouTube. She is aiming to make four-minute shows that would piece together everything you would find on T.V.

Her Youtube channel will be called Puppet Dude Youtube.

“I don’t tend to name them a whole lot, but once we get into filming we’ll get into some serious character development,” she smiled.

Organizations: Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, Argyle Fine Art Gallery

Geographic location: Halifax, Barrington Street

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