Caretaker of the Earth



Follow Gnomus the giant gnome around the Temperate House as he shares stories about the amazing plant collection inside. Daily from May through to September 2018.

Daily from 26 May to 3 June, and from 21 July to 2 September.

Venue: The Temperate House.

Meet Gnomus, a giant puppet who will lead you on a story-filled adventure through the world’s temperate lands.

The last survivor of an ancient race, Gnomus is a font of knowledge. As ‘caretaker of the Earth‘, he’s emerged from his underground home to check on the plants at the Temperate House.

Performances will last 15 minutes. Please check times at the gate upon arrival into the gardens.

Cast & Creative

Creative Team:

Ivan Thorley- Puppets with GUTS- Artistic Director / Creative Producer

Nick Barnes Puppets- Designer

Andrew Dawson- Director

Andrew McCaldon- Writer

Alison Alexander- Costume Designer

CAST- Sam Clark, Iskandar Sharazuddin, Katrina Wesseling, Richard Booth, Bertie Harris and Ethan Catchpole

PUPPET MAKERS- Charlie Tymms, Maia Kirkman-Richards, Oli Simonon, Seb Mayer, Jo May, Caroline Bowman.

Consultant Producer- Robin Morley

Consultant Director- Claire Rafferty



Gnomus was first commissioned for the 2017 BBC Ten Pieces Prom at the Albert Hall, a classical, contemporary and new music initiative that has musically, theatrically and interactively engaged four million young people around the UK over four years. Nick Barnes Puppets asked Puppets with GUTS to collaborate on developing Gnomus, which was a response to a Mussorgsky piece of the same name, and draws inspiration from Arthur Rackham’s illustrations, with a touch of Tim Burton! During this initial commission process, an educational and engagement project was delivered to young people at Fox Primary school, who where able to contribute to initial designs and performance ideas, helping to bring Gnomus to life.

Following on from the BBC commission, in 2018 Gnomus was further developed from a two to four-person puppet for a summer commission at Kew Gardens, delivering 52 continuous days of intensive performance. Gnomus led a characterful and dynamic big puppetry performance to a diverse family audience, exploring the Temperate House collection and highlighting the issues facing plants and fungi. The result is a characterful puppet spectacle, through which different narratives are told. The elements of the show include the four-person bunraku puppet Gnomus, an outside tour guide character called “Robin”, two wearable amplified sound systems and a small mobile performance pedestal.

Looking ahead, Gnomus can be commissioned to respond to different outdoor sites and engaged as an eccentric storyteller for daytime or night-time performances.

Supported By

Originally commission for the BBC Learning Department for the BBC Proms Ten Pieces 2017 and is a collaboration between Nick Barnes Puppets and Puppets with GUTS, and then recommissioned for Kew Gardens in 2018.