Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Mechanicals (art)

Has anyone been to The Mechanicals exhibition of modern automata at Herstmonceux Observatory yet? According to their website, it began in May and continues until the end of August and is a collaboration between Science Projects Ltd and Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. I saw a television documentary about vintage and antique automata recently, probably on BBC4, and was fascinated by them so I'm definitely going to try and get along to the Observatory before the exhibition ends.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre was initially a craft shop in Falmouth, Cornwall. It opened in 1979 and stocked a few Peter Starkey automata which customers loved to see in action. When further automata by Paul Spooner arrived too, owner Sue Jackson decided to create a distinct company. May 1983 saw the first customers paying to activate the automata and the venture was so popular that Cabaret Mechanical Theatre moved to larger premises in London's Covent Garden in 1985. Exhibits currently at Herstmonceux include The Sheep Shearing Man by Ron Fuller, The Barecats by Paul Spooner and Matt Smith, and The Birth of Fast Food by Keith Newstead. Each is underpinned by an interactive board explaining how the drives, pulleys, ratchets and levers enable the machine to work.

Herstmonceux Observatory, open daily from 10:00 until 18:00, last admissions 16:00.
Entrance fee £8 adult, £6 child, £6.25 seniors.