Izzy Hollis first got involved with City Arts in 2016, as part of a team making a giant tiger puppet for Nottingham’s Light Night festival. We offered her the space and tools to make art when we she had just graduated from her Theatre Design course at Nottingham Trent University.
She has been part of Light Night parades, Nottingham Carnival and has done lots of puppeteering with us since then. She was a performer for ‘The Search for Teddy Island’, our doorstep puppet show during the pandemic. And she is part of Puppet Club. Hosted by City Arts, the club is an informal network of Nottingham artists and makers working in puppetry.
Izzy has Tourette’s. As part of our RESIDENCE project she was awarded a bursary to develop a show, Why Fish?, about the tic disorder. During a residency at City Arts, she received mentoring and support. It premiered at Puppet Cabaret, our scratch-puppet theatre event, in September 2022.
If it wasn’t for City Arts and the people here, I don’t think I would have stayed in puppetry. I probably would have gone full time at my customer services job. You’ve given me the time and space to develop as an artist. I’ve built on the skills I learnt at Uni, and it’s given me the motivation to move forward.
It’s like my second home. I know all your puppets like the back of my hand. It’s a really comfortable place to be. I like being around the people here. It’s really lovely to have people to bounce off creatively. It gives you more energy and more motivation to carry on doing things, even when it seems really tough.
Puppet Club has created a lot of connections for me. It’s how I met everyone involved in The Search for Teddy Island. It’s extended my artistic network. And I’ve made a lot of friends. It’s hard to make friends when you are an adult.
I’ve never really expected that I would be so supported by an organisation. It has been really lovely. I really, really fully appreciate all of the support. I don’t know what I would have done without City Arts.
When the pandemic hit, I was considering leaving the arts. Then I got a call from City Arts inviting me to be part of the Nottingham Puppet Festival, and then I was invited to be part of Jingah. Through The Jingah Project I developed a connecting with Mandinga Arts (a London-based carnival company), that led to me performing in the 2022 Jubilee Parade. The projects I’ve done with City Arts have been the building blocks of my career.
Working with City Arts has opened my eyes to community work, like taking art into schools. I hadn’t really done any of that before. With you, I’ve done puppetry in schools and carnival workshops. I’d never experienced art in the community in that way. It was just really eye-opening to see how you can use art to engage with people who might not necessarily have had the chance before. I’d like to do more work that people can access, rather than work that is locked behind pricey tickets. Working with City Arts has inspired me to do more work that reaches communities. Generally, it’s given me more confidence to make work.
Izzy story shows the vital role City Arts plays supporting young Nottingham artists as they enter the creative sector. The time she has spent shadowing projects and seeing other artists develop work has given her confidence in hefr own work forward. Supporting Izzy to explore her Tourette’s using puppetry and storytelling is an exciting next step in her creative journey.