There was a sense of excitement this morning as Kaspar, Sophie and Stu, who've secretly been beavering away in an out house to create an Austrian horse out of wire and mesh, unveiled their creation. We all gathered in the yard in anticipation as the technicians took up their places inside the body of the puppet and then to gasps of amazement and a round of applause out she trotted.
Essentially it'll take four actors to manipulate the horse. Two at the front carrying the weight of the neck, one at the back and a fourth swishing the tail which detaches and dances its own gigs of delight.
Tina watched carefully, for all the world like a championship trainer overseeing the gallops, and then began to issue instructions to test the versatility of the structure. Could it bend to graze? Could it flick flies from its mane? Could it canter? Every second seemed to offer up new possibilities. Eventually it retired so that further work could be done ironing out a few of the minor clunks, but Kasper seemed very pleased with this first outing.
Elsewhere a very serious discussion was taking place about how we manage the osprey's arrival from water to land. At the minute the giant puppet is strapped onto the back of the Rutand Belle, a pleasure craft that throughout the summer ferries sightseers from Whitwell over to Normanton church. The plan is that as the boat docks the giant osprey head will detach, be carried onto land and put onto Harry (who's going to play the bird on land.) At the moment this manoeuvre takes several minutes and involve pins, clips, bungee ties and stabilising mop handles. Anami and Kate took me through the process after lunch. I think the way round the problem may have accidentally been discovered on Monday when, faced with a very public construction job, we forged a ritual to cover our uncertainty. If we work with Diene, Mohamed and the casterton drummers, I sense we could turn a logistical problem into something quite moving and wonderful.
It was back to Uppingham this afternoon and a second opportunity to play with the tropical bird wings. Each one has nine operators and the more we explore the more the it becomes apparent that flashes of colour, dispersion and return to formation, chaos and then order, provide the most visually interesting sequences. A narrative of suspicion, threat and finally acceptance also began to emerge. A cautious welcome to Senegal followed by a riotous display of welcome.