Melanie Skene,

Many Hands Art Puppeteer


Melanie Skene

Many Hands Art Puppeteer,

Melanie Skene is an activist-artist/puppeteer who creates and performs with puppets and masks that are frequently seen in various parades, marches, festivals and theatrical productions throughout Hamilton. In 2010, she founded Many Hands Art, a community arts organization through which she organized Solus, a summer solstice festival as part of her MA of Environmental Studies at York
University. She has also designed and facilitated giant puppet and mask making workshops for citizens of all ages to participate in. She has worked with the renowned Bread and Puppet Theatre in Vermont. Currently, she resides in her hometown of Dundas.

I began my journey with puppet and mask after witnessing the use of giant puppets in solstice processions. Soon, I began to create giant puppets for local celebrations, as a way to draw attention to our relationship with nature as well as to insert colour and magic into the everyday. Since then I have been experimenting and working with a diversity of puppet and mask size and
style. My work is deeply inspired by old myth and folk tales, nature and the function of puppetry and mask in traditional public ritual, community spectacle and as political commentary. I am currently building two large marionettes – a faun and a tree sprite – to be performed by stilt walkers in the Hamilton Aerial Group's upcoming Winterfest Cabaret (February 10, 2018). These will be my first marionettes and are proving to be a very enjoyable challenge. They are made from paper mache and found wood.