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Puppets made from rubbish

Patrick's 'rubbish puppets'

“Litter everywhere! Rubbish everywhere! I hate it! hate it!” This is Patrick Amber, a local artist and community-arts project worker in Sheffield, who is known for his puppets made out of rubbish.

Patrick’s first puppet was created when he was 19 years old. Although he wouldn’t like to admit it was 30 years ago. He said that at the time he began to see more and more rubbish around, especially broken memory sticks and other electronics.

“I want to make them into something interesting or useful to make people think about rubbish problems. Rather than throwing it everywhere, take advantage of it,” Patrick explained.

Patrick and his mural

Patrick’s puppets come in different sizes depending on the materials available, approximately from 7cm to 25cm. He makes various characters, cats, dogs, cops, robbers, boys, girls and superheros. See pictures of Patrick’s puppets on his blog.

Patrick said he had lost count of how many puppets he has made, because there has just been so many.

Patrick has filmed a selection of his favourite puppets, combining this with music.

People talk

Locals in his community and beyond began to invite Patrick to take part in some cultural activities and craft fairs to show people his puppet making and some of his other designing crafts.

In 2010, Patrick held an exhibition called Catrap at Bank Street Arts Gallery in Sheffield. He ran workshops where adults and children made cat and mouse puppets using household rubbish.

“The exhibition had a very good response and children felt they did something they’d never thought of doing. I’m going to do some recycling workshops with children across Sheffield. I’ll teach them to make something out of their broken toys and other useless things,” said Patrick.

The middle part of Patrick's digital design "Skulls Out'

Way to art

Patrick said his love for designing things and doing creative drawing started when he was very young.

“When I was four, I liked drawing and daydreaming and my parents encouraged me.”

With a passion for arts and experience in drawing, in 1985 Patrick completed Fine Art degree at Exeter College of Art and Design. There he learnt more about other art forms.

After graduating, Patrick did several jobs including teaching children drawing and painting, drawing cartoons for newsletters, as well as doing anti-drug education. He is now a freelance artist.

“I don’t like to be employed anymore or to design what people ask me to design. “I’m not interested in making money and I’m not business-minded.”

Patrick’s artwork comes in many forms such as drawings, paintings, photography, murals, graffiti, abstract digital art and hand-made crafts, including lanterns and puppets.

He has a photography album with more than 500 pictures showing faces in nature. Patrick said;

“At the beginning I looked for things which looked like faces, but later faces came to me. Art is everywhere.”

In recent years, Patrick has focused his attention on digital art. Last year his work ‘Skulls Out’ was displayed at the Sheffield 20×20 Exhibition.

More recently, Patrick is busy running workshops for puppet and lantern making. He takes part in various cultural events and also sells his artwork online.

Patrick's drawing "raw deal"

Community plan

One of Patrick’s next ventures includes raising money to refurbish  Burngreave Chapel. The chapel is situated within a park near his home. It has been in disrepair for many years however. See pictures of the chapel here.

“The chapel needs repairing. Somebody needs to do it and I think I can do it.

“The chapel could be used as a community space to run workshops, film shows, exhibitions and craft fairs by and for people living around there. Then people in that area can come along and do something together.”

It is clear that Patrick is dedicated to his art work and improving the environment, combining these passions in a unique way.

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