Raisa and Frida, two young Scandinavian artists and puppeters make up 'The Little Theater Of Dolls', a UK based theater company. Their puppets, costumes and productions are quirky, dark and fairytale like. So I was obsessed immediatly and had to interview them!
1 - You met in London, but grew up in Scandinavia, what made you decide to move to the UK?
We both ended up in London by chance in a way. Raisa's intention was to come to London just for a few months before going back to Helsinki to study photography and Frida was on her way to study in Spain and had just come via London to visit a friend. I guess destiny had something else planned for us since we are still here after all these years, and working on something quite different to what we had initially planned.
2 - What inspired you both as children?
We were both very much inspired by nature. We both played a lot outside, making things from found objects from an early age. Raisa's most magical childhood memories are from her grandmother’s magical pink attic where she could spend hours playing and digging for weird old dusty objects from the past. And both of us were really inspired by fairytales that continue to enchant us to this very day. In fact our work now aspires to create the illusion that these old found objects carry those surreal and magical qualities in them, just as we believed as a children.
3 - How did you decide to start a puppets theater? Were you surprised by the amount of work it took?
We have both been fascinated by storytelling in art and that was the reason we ended up studying illustration. Frida started experimenting with animation while Raisa started making sculptural installation pieces. As our work took more three dimensional form, we both got a thought in our heads: What if you could make the artwork and its characters alive, in real time? We see puppetry as a tool to make our artwork alive and breathing and what is so amazing about it is that it has such a direct communication with the audience.
As Raisa graduated from college, she decided to go to an art collective (Lower Bottom Gallery) in Oakland in California and Frida suggested to come with and we got a crazy idea of making a puppet show together. She had one more year of college left but decided to take a year out. We had never worked together or made maneuverable puppets, let alone made a whole puppet production! So we went to California in Spring 2006 where we made our first production. It has been such hard work ever since but we both love it. I guess we had no idea what massive life choice we made when we decided to embark on this project, it has really taken over our lives in many ways. But we love it so much we both have such passion for it since there are so many things one can do with this medium, only the sky is the limit.
4 - Your puppets can be both sweet yet dark - what inspires the stories and looks of the puppets?
The process is very visual; the story develops as we work on the elements and gradually the whole production starts making sense. It is hard to pinpoint where exactly the visual inspiration comes from; it is so many things: experimentation, things around us and things we find, artists who’s work we admire, myths and folk tales, nature, cities, books and films, music. Sometimes we don't even realise where the inspiration has come from until the work is complete.
5 - What are your plans for the future? Are there any plans for more productions or ventures?
We are working on our new production at the moment. This will be the biggest production we have made so far, it is one hour in duration so it will be a lot of work, a truly epic process. We are hoping to finish the production by next Spring and then go on tour.