The Squeaking Tribe

Gollum (Sméagol) – Large Marionette


Gollum/Sméagol – One of our most ‘Precious’ designs, this guy sat on the creative back-burner for about ten years, slowly incubating in my imagination until the time was ripe to release him. A favourite character from the Tolkien classics and Peter Jackson’s accomplished film series, Gollum/Smeagol is now very much a favourite son of The Squeaking Tribe, too!

The name Gollum was derived from the sound of his gurgling, choking cough and his life extended far beyond his nature, by the effects of possessing the One Ring. Sméagol was about 589 years old when he died, a remarkable age for a creature that was once a Hobbit, but he had been deformed and twisted in body and mind by the corruption of the Ring. His chief desire was to repossess the Ring that had enslaved him, and he pursued it for many years after Bilbo Baggins found it in Gollum’s cave within the Misty Mountains. Inadvertently, Gollum would play a vital role in the ultimate Quest of the Ring.

Perfectly, realised in the movies by the incredible character actor, Andy Serkis, this version recognises and embraces the need for a heightened level of articulation and animation which makes for an intricate working marionette. The elbow strings alone allow for particularly dramatic poses and movement which help to fully realise the acrobatic performance Mr Serkis brought to the role.

For all his snivelling corruption and frenetic shifts in personality, there is no denying Gollum/Smeagol is one of the most iconic and interesting characters in the last century and one who has made a wet cave for himself in all our hearts.

Large-scale Artworks

Fully articulated marionettes and interactive Art!

When I first began making marionette puppets back in 1996 (22 years young), I was living with a potter and a drum-maker in the foothills of Adelaide, South Australia. With access to a whole range of clays, I found myself one day sculpting a hollow head and face. “If I added clay hands and feet,” I thought to myself, “I’d have the basic counter balances for a puppet!” Which prompted two simple questions: a) Of what little marionettes I’d seen, why did so many of them look so cheap and crappy, and b) Why did none of them work!?

My challenge clearly was to make a good looking puppet that would actually perform. As the Internet was yet to become a household fixture and Google not yet a technocrat’s pipedream, I resorted to local libraries whose resources on the subject was terribly lacking. Luckily, the process for making a marionette was a time consuming one with many separate factors; hand sculpting with clay which needed days (sometimes weeks) to dry before firing, sewing and soft-sculpture creation of the ‘skeleton’, costuming and assembling of the basic character, construction of an appropriate crosspiece before stringing and detailing the final finished piece. In all, a process that required a 3-6 weeks work, an opportunity of course which allowed a LOT of extra time for dreaming up new puppet characters to make!

Every marionette I made, I was learning and discovering new ways to make them quicker and more effective and with every idea that ensued, I was having more and more ideas of other puppets I could make. The avalanche of ideas which consumed me in that first year alone could keep me busy crafting for a decade at least; having kept that passion alive for over twenty-five years, I easily have enough ideas to fill multiple lifetimes!

From these humble beginnings, I have since developed a whole range of different interactive effigies which borrow from the traditional methods of Puppetmaking while at the same time improve on ideas of articulation to create marionettes which everyone can use and indeed, with a little practice, manipulate like a professional. Sharing this with others and inspiring a new generation of artists and puppeteers to reignite the tradition is probably the greatest joy in this life I have made and now share with my wife, Sara.


Doll-form/ full marionette height approximately 60/102cm or 22/40in.


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