Walking for hope: a colossal puppet journeys to UK

Last week a giant puppet was welcomed to Folkestone by actor Jude Law for an international art project. ‘Little Amal’, which means hope in Arabic, represents a young refugee with big hopes as she embarks on an epic journey to find her mother.

Standing at 3.5 metre tall, the little girl has travelled 4,971 miles from the Syrian border as part of ‘Good Chance: The Walk’. The festival of art, travelling across eight countries, highlights the plight of child refugees who become separated from their families.

Folkestone Fringe, an artist-led organisation, said “at this time of unprecedented global change, ‘The Walk’ is an extraordinary artistic response: a cultural odyssey transcending borders, politics and language to tell a new story of shared humanity.”

Little Amal appeared from the Harbour Arm beach to a crowd of cheering locals, before journeying across Folkestone to the sound of choirs and applause. Singers performed a specially composed song by acclaimed composer and choir director Anil Sebastian of London Contemporary Voices.

Future Foundry, a social enterprise company, worked with the community to create a lantern walkway for the puppet. Director Lisa Oulton said “our procession of light and music will light her way along the ancient pilgrim route to Dover Castle where she will discover and illuminate an incredible Lighthouse, one of the oldest symbols of safety and sanctuary.”

Three people from Good Chance Theatre controlled the puppet, one inside the wooden-framed torso and the other two manipulating the arms. The extraordinary puppet was designed by Syrian artist duo UV Lab and made by the Handspring Puppet Company, who most famously created the life-sized animal puppets for the play War Horse.

Folkestone Fringe added that the event was “to ensure the world doesn’t forget the millions of displaced children, each with their own story, who are more vulnerable than ever during the global pandemic.

The event was organised during the Creative Folkestone Triennial (formerly known as Creative Foundation). In 2017, Boodle Hatfield’s team advised Creative Folkestone on a case they brought against the tenant of an amusement arcade over a Banksy mural. During the triennial event in 2014, Banksy’s ‘Art Buff’ appeared on the back wall of an amusement arcade overnight. But just over a month later Dreamland (the tenant) cut the mural out of the wall for sale in the US without the landlord’s permission. The judge ruled that Banksy’s work was indeed public property and it finally returned to Folkestone in 2020.

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