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'The Mask Handbook' Toby Wilsher


Background reading about masks - definition, history and use.

'.. a mask is a covering of part or all of the face or body that can disguise, protect or transform. ... My definition of a mask is simple. It transforms.'(p12)

Then goes on to explore the difference between the sacred and secular use of masks. We are interested in the secular use ... 

'It has now been suggested that the masks were there in Greek theatre as a brake to overacting, to force the audience to feel and imagine the emotion. ... The mask exposes truth.'(p15)

(Sacred masks recommends John Macks (1994) 'Masks')

How does the mask work?

'Lecoq explained it brilliantly. The mask displaces the principal communication methods. So in a mask the whole face becomes the eye, the part that sees things and the body becomes the expressive face which registers the realisations.'(p31)

By creating art masks that are decorated they are quite different from character masks that are used on stage in the theatre. What is the purpose of masks that we might make and use? Will they be used by a person or will they be body less? I have taken photos of the masks on their own - they are expressions on their own - do they need to mask someone's face? I see them as entities in their own right rather than masks. What are they symbolising like this? Disconnect, a strange presence - the Cheshire Cat. The science-fiction notion of keeping just the head/brain alive and the body redundant? The head as the vessel for memory and personality.

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