Automata and the lost art of moving mechanical sculptures
Some 300 years on from the ‘golden age’ of automata, moving mechanical sculpture continues to delight adults and children alike. The latest exhibition from the UK Crafts Council explores the magical space where art meets engineering.
A Curious Turn, which begins its UK tour in Wolverhampton Art Gallery on 18 February 2017, allows visitors to investigate automata in action, providing movement and sound to stir the imagination and delight the senses.
Simon Venus uses the art of mechanics to reflect on the conflict of science and human nature in his miniature mechanical theatre, ‘In Two Minds’, 2007.
‘Mule Make Mule’, 2012, a mixed-media construction by Tim Lewis, features a wheel at the back, which causes the mule to draw a perfect self-portrait.
‘Transport of Delights’, 2010, by Keith Newstead, is made from wood, brass and rubber. It depicts a steampunk-style carriage, complete with driver.
The wooden figures in ‘Five Artists Reflect on their Waning Powers’, 1983, by Paul Spooner each ponder whether artistic skill declines with age.
Mechanical sculptor Nick Ramage has created a tapping copy of his own digits in ‘Fingers’, 2009.
‘Dia de los Muertos’, 2016, features a wooden skeletal mariachi band, complete with working maracas.
‘Bird Wave’, by Martin Smith, 2007, has 73 pairs of aluminium wings, which gently flap together to create a rippling metallic surface.