Interview with Adrian Kohler

General view of the Handspring Factory

General view of the Handspring Factory

For those who’ve read the statement of practice from Handspring Puppet Company, you might be interested in the following short interview with Adrian Kohler:

How did you first become involved in puppetry?

My mom was a puppeteer and art teacher. Made and performed figures from an early age.

How did you learn puppetry skills?

From puppet manuals by John Wright and Hans-jurgen fetig and Margery Batchelder. Built puppets as a kid. Occasional films on bunraku and Czech puppet animation. Studied sculpture at art school. Mentored by Lily Herzberg at the Space Theatre in the mid seventies. Interned at the Canon Hill puppet Theatre in Birmingham uk for 6 months. Taught puppetry at Weld Community centre, Birmingham. Ran Popular Theatre program in Botswana in late seventies Where puppets were used. Formed Handspring inn 1981 and continued to learn on the hoof.

Is there a particular school of puppetry in South Africa?

Other puppeteers.

What do you think of the work of William Kentridge? Is your work in dialogue with his at all?

I and many others think William is a Renaissance man. A broad approach to art. Generous and fearless, particularly of new technology. My work continues to be influenced by what I have learnt from William and he says the same about me. As we are not making anything new together at the moment, this dialogue carries on at a distance.

In between performances, do you think it would be worthwhile exhibiting puppets like the war horses on their own?

Yes, the horses look good just standing there.

What are your upcoming projects?

A piece called ‘True’ with Neil Bartlett slated to open at the Cottlesloe Tyeatre in October. About which I am so excited it cuts down on my sleep.

Journal of Modern Craft 2.3

Journal of Modern Craft 2-3

Journal of Modern Craft 2-3

Third issue of 2009

Editorial Introduction


A Ghost in the Machine Age: The Westerwald Stoneware Industry and German Design Reform, 1900–1914 by Freyja Hartzell

A Catalan Werkstätte? Arts and Crafts Schools between Modernisme and Noucentisme by Jordi Falgàs

Early Expressions of Anthroposophical Design in America: The Infuence of Rudolf Steiner and Fritz Westhoff on Wharton Esherick by Roberta A. Mayer and Mark Sfrri

Primary Text Commentary

Design in Ireland: Report of the Scandinavian Design Group in Ireland, April 1861, by Paul Caffrey

Statement of Practice

Handspring Puppet Company by Adrian Kohler, Basil Jones and Tommy Luther (pdf)

Exhibition Reviews

Craft in its Gaseous State: Wouldn’t It Be Nice … Wishful Thinking in Art and Design by Mònica Gaspar

Quiet Persuasion: Political Craft by Geraldine Craig

Book Reviews

A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression reviewed by Sandra Alfoldy

Designing Modern Britain reviewed by Peter Hughes