I'm always looking for new and creative visual explorations of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, and I recently discovered two photos of this absolutely incredible full-body puppet of Deadyawn, the Headmaster of young Titus Groan's school. As described in Gormenghast, Deadyawn, an infant-like man who is wheeled around the school in a tall rickety high-chair, is described thusly:
Wrapped up like an untidy parcel in a gun-gray gown emblazoned with signs of the Zodiac in two shades of green, none of which signs could be seen very clearly for reason of the folds and creases, save for Cancer the crab on his left shoulder, was Deadyawn himself, and all but asleep. His feet were tucked beneath him. In his lap was a hot water bottle.
His face wore the resigned expression of one who knew that the only difference between one day and the next lies in the pages of a calendar.
His hands rested limply on the tray in front of him at the height of his chin. As he entered the room he opened one eye and gazed absently into the smoke. He did not hurry his vision and was quite content when, after several minutes, he made out three indistinct shapes below him. Those three shapes - Opus Fluke, Perch-Prism and Bellgrove - were standing in a line, Opus Fluke having fought himself free of his cradle as though struggling against suction. The three gazed up at Deadyawn in his chair.
His face was as soft and round as a dumpling. There seemed to be no structure in it: no indication of a skull beneath the skin.
This Deadyawn puppet was created by Naomi Oppenheim although I can't seem to find a personal web site for her or much more information. Additionally, I'm not quite sure if this was a personal project for her portfolio or if there was indeed a puppet performance of Gormenghast. Oh, my, what something like that could be! Brilliant work, this is. Brilliant.