History and Inspiration

I’ve always been fascinated by the history of masks in all their many different forms. Masks have been part of human culture for centuries, the earliest ones are thought to date from 9,000 years ago.

Masks have been used for protection, as a disguise, and for entertainment or ritual purposes.

Masks were made from a variety of materials such as wood, leather, and bone.

In some cultures masks are used in ceremonies to honor ancestors or protect against evil spirits.

The Ancient Egyptians and the Aztecs covered the faces of the dead with masks, while in parts of Asia masks are common in the theatre.

The inspiration for my masks comes from the historic city of Venice, Italy.
Venetian masks can be defined in two main categories.

Commedia dell’arte

Commedia dell’arte

Commedia dell’arte means Art of Comedy in Italian. This form of improvisational theatre featured the use of masks and first became popular in Italy in the sixteenth century. It remained popular until the end of the eighteenth century but was later revived and is still performed today.
Commedia dell’arte involved a traveling team of theatrical players setting up an impromptu outdoor stage, on which they would perform amusing entertainment. Performances often featured juggling and acrobatics but most frequently involved humorous plays with a cast of familiar characters and a somewhat vague storyline known as a canovaccio. The most popular masked characters in commedia dell’arte were Arlecchino or Harlequin, Brighella, Scaramouche, Colombina, Il Dottore, Pantalone, Pierrot, and Pulcinella.
Carnival Masks

Carnival Masks

These are my favourite types of masks. Carnival masks have always been an important part of the renowned Venetian carnival. This is a centuries-old tradition and remains one of the world’s most famous carnivals.
The history of masked revelers in Venice dates back to the thirteenth century. Venetians would hold celebrations every year from December 26 until the beginning of Lent and wear elaborate masks at parties in order to conceal their true identities. Venice had one of the most firmly established class systems in Europe and these events were the only opportunity for the upper and lower classes to intermingle freely. Aristocrats and peasants alike secretly played out their fantasies together, safely disguised by their masks. The period of the carnival was filled with activities such as gambling, political assassinations, love affairs, and dancing the nights away at parties.

My mask designs are based on the most popular Venetian forms