Originally published: Salt Magazine
Written by: Alexander Fynes-Clinton
Date: December 2, 2011
Noosa creative David Poulton specialises in serving up visual feasts to those who pass by department store windows.
David is the owner and director of Noosa-based Promotions In Motion, a company behind some of the world’s most inspired department store window displays. The enterprise designs displays for 17 different contractors all over the world, ranging from Australian department store giant David Jones, to Cadbury World in Australia and New Zealand.
Most famously, the company is known for its world-renowned David Jones Christmas display windows, as well as its display work on the Sunshine Coast’s very own Ginger Factory ride.
David, a puppeteer by trade, says his passion for display work was a product of his lifelong obsession with puppetry.
“When I started school as a little boy, I had a very severe stammer. I got teased a lot,” David explains. “I decided I wouldn’t put up with it and decided to just not speak. I became an elective mute. Three years later, I had a teacher put a puppet on my hand at school and I began to communicate through the puppet. That was where my passion began.”
From that moment on, a professional career was always in the offing for the New Zealand-born artist and a long stint on the live circuit naturally followed.
“I became a professional puppeteer at age 20,” he says. “I got married forty years ago to my wife Sally who came from a musical background. We naturally became professional entertainers and came to live in Queensland. “Over the years I’ve been notable characters like Blinky Bill and presented the last large-scale stage version of The Magic Pudding. [Our company] played in forty-two countries.”
Somewhat ironically, it was David’s runaway success pursuing his first love that led him to his second.
“I’d toured for the Queensland Arts Council for thirty-five continuous years and showed to about three or four million kids,” he says. “We travelled a lot and in 1988 I was in Taiwan doing a tour and I was involved in a serious earthquake. Around us, about a hundred people were killed. It was a life changing moment.
“When you travel you quadruple your risk of not getting back. I’d done sixteen tours in Asia and of them, eleven had an incident that could have been life-threatening.
“I suddenly thought at the moment of this earthquake in Taiwan, as the building was shaking and the stairwell was collapsing, I knew it was time for me to wind back the touring.
“It was a lightning bolt moment. I knew I was going to be an animator.”
It didn't take long for David to realise his vision.
Fast forward a few short years from that landmark decision and Promotions In Motion now employs eleven full-time creative artists and constructs renowned displays for clients all over the world.
Most amazingly, all of the company’s work is produced out of their Noosa workshop – every shop window display, every puppet, every interactive animation.
“Within six months of setting my sights on the new venture, I had my first contract,” David says. “I had my photograph in The Australian newspaper alongside two other people, talking about the magic of Christmas.
“One of them was the David Jones national marketing manager. I rang her up, told her I was interested in designing their windows and told her to have a look at my work in a big show I had in Sydney called ‘Santa’s Kingdom’. Within six hours I had a phone call.
“I fell in love with Noosa very early on in my life and I always wanted to settle down there. The new project was ideal in that sense.”
David says his display work, which heavily utilises puppetry to breathe life in scenes, was a natural evolution from his many years on the road performing.
“It’s really still puppetry – a lot like live theatre,” he says. “We have a challenge in that we have a window to portray a scene in a book or part of a story and you don’t have the same tricks you can rely on in theatre.
“You’re playing to a huge age group, from babies to older people and you have to make that widow passionately exciting to look at. I still get a huge buzz from the challenge.”
With the amount of world-class work David and his team are producing from their Noosa workshop, one would think the search for more clients would be the furthest thing from the team’s mind. But nothing could be further from the truth.
David says Promotions In Motion are currently in talks with their biggest ever potential client.
“Negotiations are still ongoing,” he says with a wry confidence. “But what I can say is that we’re in discussions with the world’s most famous store.”
For those curious, best get to your nearest computer and Google that last term.