nick barnes puppets

designing and making puppets for contemporary theatre


Nick Barnes is an innovative and experienced puppetry designer and maker who has been working in theatre for over 25 years.

He makes puppets in his workshop in Hove, in the south east of England, for productions across the UK and abroad. Working with teams of talented makers from across the country.

At the heart of Nick’s work is the desire to create a beautiful and well crafted object. His puppets are unique and expertly designed with great attention to detail. He is able to work in many materials: sculpting in clay, styrofoam, soft foam rubber or wood; mould-making and casting in resin with fibre glass, or a range of rigid and flexible polyurethane foams; patterning small or large plastazote head sculpts and body shapes. The choice of material and technique is always appropriate to the job in hand: being a combination of the demands which will be placed on the puppet and the available budget.

This website showcases Nick’s puppet making, featuring images of puppets he has made independently and with Blind Summit, the theatre company he co-founded and for which he was co-artistic director for many years.


Nick began making puppets whilst studying drama at Hull University and theatre design at the Slade School of Fine Art and soon after began incorporating puppets into his theatre designs for opera and theatre.

In 1997 Nick formed Blind Summit Theatre – a company whose remit was the creation of new puppet work for adult audiences.

Nick was joint artistic director of Blind Summit for many years during which time he performed, designed and directed for the company. Blind Summit’s own productions include Mr. China’s Son, Tramping the Boards, The Spaceman, Pirate Puppetry, Martin’s Wedding, Low Life, Call of the Wild, 1984, The Heads and The Table which won several international awards and continues to be invited to festivals around the world.

In 2005 Blind Summit collaborated with Anthony Minghella on the ENO award winning production of Madame Butterfly, Nick designed the puppets for the production and performed with them at the ENO in London and The Metropolitan Opera in New York. He also collaborated with many other internationally renowned companies designing puppets for productions which include A Dog’s Heart (ENO/DNO, Simon McBurney), Shunkin and Master and Margarita (Complicite, Simon McBurney), El Gato Con Botas (Tectonic Theatre, Moises Kaufman), On Emotion (Mick Gordon), Faeries (Royal Opera House, Will Tuckett), His Dark Materials (Birmingham Rep/WYP, Rachel Kavanagh), Kommilitonen! (Royal Academy of Music, David Poutney).

In 2012 Blind Summit oversaw the puppetry in Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony for the Olympic Games.

Nick left Blind Summit in 2013 to work independently as a designer and maker.

Recent Clients

Nick has delivered puppet projects to many companies and individuals. Past or current collaborators include:

Aix-en-Provence Festival


Birmingham Royal Ballet

Bristol Old Vic

Chichester Festival Theatre

Disneyland Paris

Fiery Angel


Gyre & Gimble

Kenny Wax Ltd.

Les Enfants Terribles

Music and Lyrics Ltd.

Old Vic London

Perfect Pitch

Royal National Theatre

If you would like to enquire about or discuss a puppetry project please email