Nettle Knickers Puppet Show –
Bringing the world of Lost Plant Knowledge Back to life 
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund 

Nettle Knickers is an interactive puppet theatre show based on plant characters supported by educational workshops, and a fun, educational animation that details the history herbal medicine through time.  All supported by a documentary of the project.

Following funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Spectral Arts created the Nettle Knickers project with Medical Herbalist Julia Behrens, performer Kay Beech, artist Dean Blunkell and animator Tim Sanpher.

Using folk law, fairy tales, myths and combining them with real active ingredients in the form of well-known medicinal plants the Nettle Knickers puppet show brings to life a collection of herbal puppets to personify the dramatic charismatic appeal of the plant kingdom. Nettle Knickers is a puppet show and fun, educational animation that takes audiences on a creative journey through nature’s medicine cabinet.  

The project’s aims are to inspire, educate and help children and young people to understand the use and benefits, of plants and encourage them to protect our natural world – inside and out of our bodies.  We want them to see plants as an important and useful part of our natural heritage.

To date, we have performed at local schools across Brighton and Lewes and at Heritage sites including  Ann of Cleves House, Michelham Priory, Lewes Priory and Berling Gap.  The schools audiences also participated in educational workshops designed to support and complement the puppet show.

 “We’re very excited that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support and the opportunity to bring our natural heritage to life.   Come and join in the adventures of cranky Hildegaard Von Nettles, and the hypnotisingly beautiful Belladonna!  Discover the healing power of Marigold, and find out why Lord Dandelion has a pressing urge!”  Julia Behrens.

Julia has been involved in a number of educational projects with the group Spectral Arts.

Spectral Arts was formed in 1998 with a vision to bring arts to as many people as possible. We passionately believe that participation in the arts at any level is an empowering, inspirational and transformative experience.
Spectral Arts are a collective of professional artists, performers and technicians that collaborate on art-based projects.

We are experts in arts in education projects, arts/craft workshops in schools, community events, creative commissions and participatory projects.

As an organisation we aim to develop creative and performance projects in the South of England. Our unique and innovative approach to working with people and our ability to draw out artistic qualities in a supportive environment can benefit the community in many ways.

Our projects are also designed to promote art, education and the use of recycled resources, within the community sector.

“Specifically, I want to help address in a creative and collaborative way the lack of knowledge and awareness concerning sustainable forms of healthcare”.

Funding from the arts council created the opportunity for Spectral Arts to create 150 free educational and creative flower-making workshops in primary schools, community groups and special schools across London and the South Coast. Over 4,000 children were involved in the project.

The 4,000 flowers were combined to decorate a spectacular multicoloured illuminated 18 ft figurative sculpture. The sculpture was displayed at the Royal Horticulture society Birmingham on 16-20 June 2004 and The Chelsea Physic Garden London on 27th June. Kew Gardens were interested  in displaying the sculpture.

Educational Resources

Intro text

A short documentary about the project:

“Medical Herbalism – Learning Through Experience”

Educational animation:  

“A History of Herbal Medicine” 

Puppet show  50min