Sidmouth School of Art working with Sidmouth Town Council, who own the telephone kiosks in the Market Square have refurbished the telephone boxes to create two new art spaces to be curated by Sidmouth School of Art as micro museums. Each will house exhibitions that change several times a year through a variety of collaborations.
The phone boxes have been restored, sanded and painted, with lighting and new signage added whilst retaining the old Telephone signs to create The Museum of Contemporary Art and The Museum of Antiquities.
The first exhibition in The Museum of Antiquities will open this week and is a collaboration with Sidmouth Toy and Model Museum. This first exhibition “From Wonky Donkeys to Pelham Puppets” features a range of original handmade and hand painted Pelham Puppets which are part of the Sidmouth Toy and Model Museum collection in the Old Chapel, Chapel Street, Sidmouth.
Originally created by Bob Pelham, known as the “Wonky Donkey Officer” for the toys he made during the 2nd World War. The puppets were made in Marlborough, Wiltshire where Bob first operated as Wonky Toys before establishing Pelham Puppets in 1947. Made through the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s, the puppets became world renowned with many popular children’s TV characters having their own licenced Pelham Puppet version.
Sidmouth School of Art have been in contact with David Leech, official biographer of Bob Pelham who was delighted to hear about the exhibition. David, who has provided images to help create the backdrop for the puppets said;
“Although Pelham Puppets are no longer produced, Bob Pelham’s legacy lives on through the lives and work of many professional puppeteers today.”
Ian Gregory of Sidmouth Toy and Model Museum added that: “It is perfect timing for this new exhibition of traditional toys that evoke so many memories, to open at the start of Sidmouth Folk Festival as we are simultaneously partnering with the festival, Little Seeds Music and Sidmouth CofE Primary School to create a series of new songs inspired by toys of the past.
More information about the puppets and their history can be found here: www.pelhampuppets.uk.com
The Museum of Contemporary Art will open on the 7th August.
Photos Sarah Hall