Comedian Bec Hill incorporates craft in her stand-up performances using what she calls paper-puppetry – animated flip-charts brought to life through moving part and puns. As she prepares to film a new TV show to help children make and fix things at home, she speaks to us about the importance of play at all ages and why she decided to become an ambassador for the Crafts Council’s new Let's Craft campaign, which is aiming to give art activity packs to disadvantaged children around the country at a time when it’s more needed than ever.
How did you become interested in craft?
Bec Hill: I trace it back to my childhood. When I was a kid, there were just five TV channels and no internet, so I found other ways to entertain myself using the materials I had around me, and brushes and watercolour pencils. What I liked was that there was no wrong way to be creative – I wasn’t doing it for an outcome or to impress anyone.
Once when I was in school in Australia, where I grew up, we were asked to make cork hats out of newspaper, and I didn’t like how they looked so I found some card and made my own version, which the teacher used as an example of how you don’t have to do what’s suggested – you can do your own thing.
That idea has stayed with me for life – the idea of looking at something and asking, how can I do that the way I want to? Creativity often gets undermined as childish and kids are told to move on from playing around, but the play element of arts and crafts is so important.
How did you come to integrate it into your work?
When I started out in comedy, I was doing straight standup with a microphone, until one day I wanted to do a skit but didn’t have anyone to perform with. I decided to draw some stick figures and use a technique I’d learned partly on Art Attack to make their mouths move. The skit actually wasn’t very funny but people came up to me afterwards and said they liked what I had done with the flip chart. What started as a creative solution to a problem became my USP for my live and online performances.
And now you’re going to present a new children’s TV show with craft at its heart. Can you tell us more?
Unfortunately we can’t film until the coronavirus situation has eased up, but it’s called Makeaway Takeaway and will be on CITV. The idea is that children can present problems they need help finding solutions to, then we will craft a thing – whether big or small – to fix their problem, mainly using materials that are available around the house or are easily accessible. Hopefully viewers will be able to source those materials and make it themselves or experiment with their own ideas.