witty automata by

Not the Turner Prize: turn a handle instead! If these guys haven't won awards already, it's way overdue…

Sat. 3rd – Sat. 17th September HOURS: UNTIL Sun. 11th incl. 2 – 7pm, daily; other times by prior arrangement.
FROM Mon. 12th, please ring to fix a time
Pre-View Fri. 2nd Sept. 6 – 9pm
Special Final Sunday Opening 18th Sept. 11am – 2pm

Pass straight to some animated actual examples of work on show

Alan Mahon's Photoshoot - selected stills from the Exhibition

PETER LENNERTZ used to be a plumber, but got hooked on automata while working in the Covent Garden area (then home to Cabaret Museum of Mechanical Theatre, once the UK's automata hub). Forced to retire through health reasons, Peter's first decorative items were jigsaws and mobiles, sold on market stalls. His subjects are wider-ranging than Neil's, and depend less on words, although the titles are often punning. Visitors to "The First" may recall his witty takes on iconic works of art, e.g. Munch's The Scream / Picasso's Blue Period images. Another unusual element is the use of lengthy repeat-cycles in his mechanisms. He’s been making automata for over a decade, and first showed here in Peter Markey's 2005 75th Birthday Celebration.

After being made redundant from his job as an architect in 1992, NEIL HARDY turned his hand to automata. His models feature animals almost exclusively; their trademark surreal labels (a nod to the cartoonist Gary Larson and, more distantly, Glen Baxter) have visual punchlines exposed by the turn of a handle. Most of the mechanisms are complex (Neil acknowledges the echoes of Emett), often with pauses in the motion-cycle, setting up humour-expectations for the operator! As well as trans-continentally, his work has been shown at "The First" since 2008 (in September Already?) and each of our Xmas Shows), and we wish we’d recorded all the sounds of delight it generates. Do come along and add your own!

We look forward to welcoming you.

Images are a selection of each automatist's range: currently we don't know if these designs will be exhibited

Bat — before developing fangs and branching out into movies,
the vampire bat had a hard time scaring anyone (NH)

Camel — only when it was sure it was completely alone
would the camel reveal its
secret survival pack (NH)

Elephant — the rarely seen Blue Elephant defends itself
from its arch-enemy, the mouse (NH)

Blue (PL)

Circus (PL)

[image of audience a detail of the main piece].
Their heads move, "following" the trapeze artists.

The Old Man and the Sea (PL)
(Get hooked on automata, like Peter did… )

Printable Flyer for the Show

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