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Brighton artist Patrick Bullock’s puppets hit the small screen in The Crown

His Tony Blair puppet appears in the final installment of the hit Netflix show

By Dale Fox

Composite of a white man standing on Brighton beach smiling and a puppet of Tony Blair
Patrick Bullock's Tony Blair puppet is featured in The Crown (Image: Patrick Bullock)

If you’ve witnessed a parade in the UK in recent years, it’s likely that you’ve seen the handiwork of Patrick Bullock. The Brighton-based artist has become renowned for his hand-made carnival puppets, seen up and down the country from the London 2012 Olympics to Pride in Hull’s ‘50 Queers for 50 Years’ procession in 2017.

In a testament to his puppeteering prowess, Bullock also recently crafted an uncanny likeness of former Prime Minister Tony Blair for the hit Netflix series The Crown, bringing his artistry to a global audience in the show’s final installment.

But far from being a man of one talent, the multi-disciplined creator also specialises in illustration, painting, and just about any other form of art one could think of. This extends to theatrical design, including creating sets for Brighton’s Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, of which he’s also a member.

As a freelance artist who’s fortunate enough to make a full-time living from his craft, Bullock has the luxury of being able to focus on projects that have personal meaning to him. One such endeavour included a commission for the Museum of Transology exhibition at the London College of Fashion in 2017. For this, Bullock created something special: an 8-foot-tall mirrored sculpture named the Tranequin.

“The Tranequin was my comment and solution to bringing the debate out”

Patrick’s “Tranequin” sculpture (Image: Patrick Bullock)

“At the time, there was a huge hoo-ha in the press about transgender people using public toilets. I had a ‘eureka’ moment and merged the female and male signs you get outside toilets and set them spinning. The goosebumps moment for me is seeing the male, then the female figure reflected on their respective mirrored surfaces. The Tranequin was my comment and solution to bringing the debate out in the most glamorous and beautiful way I could think of.”

A Shakespear puppet in a float on a wet UK street
Patrick’s puppets have appeared in countless parades over the years (Image: Patrick Bullock)

Multi-talented artist Patrick Bullock chooses projects that hold personal meaning for him so that he can express his feelings. He adds that having the freedom of being an out gay person has allowed him to express feelings through his work that would otherwise have to be hidden away, including decorating a Pride float to appear as if a giant party popper had exploded out of the top of it.

“When you’re not out, you spend so much time trying to hide yourself and make sure you’re not giving off any signals, but once that lid’s taken off, you can be yourself.”

Patrick Bullock’s work can be seen on his Instagram profile or Facebook page.

A version of this Business Artisan feature appears in issue 356 of Attitude magazine, available on the brand new Attitude app, or in print by subscribing or picking up a copy from your local news stand.

Attitude magazine issue 356
Attitude magazine issue 356 cover (Image: Attitude)