The Giant Puppet Project
Giant Puppet Project, Cambodia
Jig Cochrane – Artistic Director
Stuart Cochlin – Project Director
Oun Sanvan – Project Manager
Bina Hanley – Public Relations
Phare Ponleu Art School in Battambang
Founded by Jig Cochrane, Stuart Cochlin and Sasha Constable in 2007. This project is now the largest of its kind in Cambodia, providing a creative platform for disadvantaged children to foster and promote self-expression and confidence through art.
Puppets are created to include unique educational, cultural and ecological themes such as road safety, endangered species, hygiene, local cultural appreciation and environmental awareness. The giant creations are produced through fun and creative workshops, charging and encouraging the imagination of the children.
Children under 15 make up one third of Cambodia’s entire population. Widespread poverty exists; education, health and the environment are key issues for the sustainable growth of the country. Every year The Giant Puppet Project offers over 500 children the opportunity to digest these all-important issues through a jovial artistic medium.
Two distinct aspects make up The Giant Puppet Project, Siem Reap. The first phase of the project involves three weeks of workshops where children from local schools, vocational facilities and ‘street kid’ organisations, along with child landmine survivors, are invited to join fun yet educational workshops where the children create the puppets. Each participating organization create their own specially designated giant puppet. Each puppet takes an average of two days to complete and they vary in size from ten to thirty meters.
The second phase, and climactic finale, is a dramatic parade through the streets of Siem Reap Town. In the ancient style of Chinese dragon puppets, each organization proudly carries and exhibits their creation. The children are applauded and cheered for the duration of the parade by an enormous and annually growing crowd of onlookers from the local communities as well as host of international tourists.
Under the guidance of student artists from Phare Ponleu Seplak in Battambang and the project’s Artistic Director, Jig Cochrane, the children flourish in the workshops and their enthusiasm grows until it bursts onto the streets of Siem Reap on the evening of the parade.