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A Crafts Council Touring Exhibition

A Curious Turn is an exhibition of automata. Automata are sculptures which are brought magically to life through a sequence of cogs, cams, cranks and levers. For centuries they have delighted and bewitched people. A Curious Turn features automata from the leading makers of the last 40 years, ranging from the humorous to the macabre and from the playful to the satirical. Visitors will be able to turn, push and crank to see many of the pieces in action, while other pieces will have films to show them in motion. William Heath Robinson was one of the principal figures inspiring the revival of automata making in the 1970s. Two related designs by William Heath Robinson are included in the exhibition.

A Curious Turn is the first major review of its kind since 1992 and was developed by the Crafts Council in association with Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, exhibition consultant. It presents an opportunity to see extraordinary works of art from the Crafts Council collection that are rarely exhibited. Works on show take a look at key automata makers such as Rowland Emmett, Paul Spooner and Melanie Tomlinson. Emmett is famous for creating the elaborate inventions of Caractacus Potts in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). Spooner, as well as being a skilled carver is an accomplished illustrator and some of his drawings from the Crafts Council collection are on display for the first time. Tomlinson’s automata are printed with beautifully intricate drawings of folklore and fairy tales which are brought to life when the sculptures move.

A Curious Turn also looks at the pivotal role played by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in the resurgence of automata in recent decades. Annie Warburton, Creative Director, Crafts Council said:

“Always charming sometimes witty, automata never fail to raise a smile. What the exhibition shows is that they can also be astonishing works of art with contemporary relevance.”

Find out more about the exhibition at www.craftscouncil.org.uk
Crafts Council Registered Charity Number 280956

Image credits:
Five Artists Reflect on Their Waning Powers, 1983
Paul Spooner (b. 1948)
Limewood, bamboo, Baltic pine, beech, plywood,
acrylic paint, steel and brass
65 × 48 × 24 cm
Crafts Council Collection, W49
Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

Mule Make Mule, 2012
Tim Lewis (b. 1961)
Mixed-media construction
127 × 58 × 53 cm
Courtesy of Tim Lewis
and Flowers Gallery,
London and New York

Transport of Delights, 2010
Keith Newstead
wood, brass and rubber
Image Courtesy of Keith Newstead


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