2010–11, Tasmania, Australia / Wales, UK         

Mr Clevver

Touring sculptural and performative artwork in the form of a travelling puppet theatre

First commissioned by Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania (CAST), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2010–11

Subsequently commissioned by National Theatre Wales to tour Wales with the play Nuclear Family, 2013

‘Mr Clevver is, for me, one of the most perfect and complete theatre works of recent decades. The idea rolled into our thinking at National Theatre Wales just like Mr Clevver’s truck rolled into town: mysterious and beautiful, it lit us up. It pootled through Cilgerran, Abaty Ystrad Fflur, Pontarfynach, Machynlleth, Tywyn…. A magical, mythical machine travelling through that magical, mythical landscape. There was strangeness and darkness in it too. The villages and towns it visited are not simple and bucolic places; there is deep poverty and isolation across Wales. Mr Clevver’s world allowed people to lose themselves and find themselves on the festooned benches of their own town square.’

Lucy Davies, Executive Director, Young Vic Theatre


Mr Clevver
, referencing a character in American writer Russell Hoban’s novel Riddley Walker, published in 1980, was a travelling sculptural artwork in the form of a puppet company. Initially, it toured the less-travelled side roads of Tasmania, Australia, in 2010 and 2011. Word of mouth signalled the company’s arrival at rural settlements. Like medieval travelling minstrels, a troupe of puppeteers – the Tasmanian artists Andrew Harper and Pip Stafford – would arrive in these remote locations to perform shows that blended factual recall with fiction, merging information into a narrative that built on the mythology of their own lives and also the lives of people they encountered. ‘The principle of Mr Clevver is that he arrives in unexpected places unannounced’, Ivan Morison explained to the BBC. ‘It’s that sense of an outsider coming into a community and arousing suspicion but then something really magical and wonderful happens and then he leaves with many things unexplained, thus keeping the mystery alive.’
Two years later, in the summer of 2013, Mr Clevver’s Puppet Company toured beaches, pubs, village greens, historic settings, and housing estates across Wales with a new play, Nuclear Family, in collaboration with National Theatre Wales. The show examined some fundamental human truths, while also poking fun at governmental and religious power structures. ‘It sees a child learn to become an adult, but an adult struggling to remain afloat within the life he has made for himself’, Ivan said. Always in character, master puppeteer Owen Davies and Heather Peak pitched up with their truck and trailer, and invited audiences to share tales old and new, inventive and fantastical. They performed all over the country and were encountered, moved on, almost arrested, and stared at by thousands of people as they negotiated sites, filled up their truck, shopped, and generally went about the business of spreading post-­apocalyptic puppet plays.


‘I will never forget the sight of Mr Clevver’s wooden caravan emerging through the Welsh hills to arrive at its next destination. Channelling the anarchy of Mr Punch and the idealism of Welfare State, this rude but charming intervention into daily life reminded us all that, when art is freed of the boxes of gallery and theatre, it has no problems finding its relevance or its audience. The journey through Wales wound through from the historic place names to council estates,
and the performance itself ranged from hilarious play to environmental Armageddon. Everything was food for this tiny, strange, puppet. And the performance was food for our souls.’

John McGraff, Director, Manchester International Festival
Photographers’ credits       

All images_ Ivan Morison

Love Me or Leave Me Alone        


Love Me or Leave Me Alone, The Very Public Art of Heather Peak and Ivan Morison presents a journey through the past decade and a half of the artists’ practice, with an emphasis on their pavilions, escape vehicles, and public artworks.  The book can be ordered from the publishers Art/Books
Press contact        

If you can’t find the information you are looking for you can contact the studio of Heather Peak and Ivan Morison here: studio@peakmorison.org