Aside from commissioned work

Pulling strings for art

Thirty local businesses are displaying works by area artists during the Culture Crawl in month of August.

Salmon Arm is the place to crawl this week as the art scene spreads across the city.

The Shuswap and District Arts Council’s annual Culture Crawl began Aug. 1, with 30 local businesses providing their space for mini art displays.

A little farther afield at Marionette Winery is the work of a 23-year-old puppet-maker. A graduate of Thompson Rivers University and Kamloops Art Gallery art instructor, tour guide and gallery attendant, Elizabeth Warner has been intrigued with marionettes for a very long time.

“My father had a few (marionettes) and did shows and I loved how they moved,” she says. “They’re not like people but they reference how people move and act. But it becomes its own thing.”

Warner tried to make her own marionettes from the time she was seven or eight, but says they weren’t very successful. In her third year of university, she began to play with them, fashioning  them out of basswood.

“I hadn’t done a lot of carving, which gave me a lot less freedom than clay,” she says. “But I liked how it made them turn out, even though it was different than what I envisioned.”

Warner began using clay and likes the detail and how she can get them closer to how she envisions them.

Her favourite creations are complex ones such as four-legged animals that require more strings and perform more particular movements.

Warner enjoys making her marionettes either for display or for others to play with.

“I am interested in operating them, not as a performer, but more to see what they can do,” she says. “I had one fellow in England and he made a film which went to a film festival in Athens. It’s neat to see where they go.”

Another buyer in Manhattan rented her marionettes and did street performances.

Warner claims hers are part of a body of work that she would like to see exhibited in other galleries.

For example, Little Ties is an adaptation from her grad show work, a display that looks at the puppets as objects instead of performers.

“I have a seven-foot puppet at the winery,” she says, noting it took two weeks of long days to make, while most other small ones require about eight hours of labour.

Warner’s puppets are based on people she knows, people dressed in certain clothing, memories she has, their facial expressions or maybe their hair.

Warner accepts commissions, which can be requested at

Visit the many businesses located on Hudson Avenue, Shuswap Street, Alexander Street and at the Ross Street Plaza. Walking maps for the self-guided tour are available at the art gallery or visitors’ centre.


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