For this weekend’s selection, I invite you to take a trip into the delightful world of automata with the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.
Unlike many of the other youtube channels that we feature, which were started as an outlet for a maker to showcase their skills, the Cabaret Mechanical Theater is more of a showcase of a collection. It began its life in 1979, starting out as a little shop in Falmouth Cornwall, selling simple automata and ceramics.
Over time and with the addition of new artists, the automata eventually displaced the other items and the shop evolved into more of a museum with people happily paying to see the pieces move and dance. Eventually relocating to London and growing even more, the Cabaret Mechanical Theater has maintained its roots in simple machines.
From their history page:
Cabaret continues to occupy the strange, shifting ground between art, craft and business. CMT was never conceived as a way of making money. For Sue it is always a labour of love. It receives no subsidies or sponsorship, yet it helps to support a number of crafts people. CMT endeavours to remain a haven of wit, intelligence and individuality in an increasingly homogenous and mass-produced world.
On their channel you’ll find educational videos and documentaries about the location, but my favorite are the simple displays of unique automata. Here are a few that I really enjoyed.
2 Dogs that meet on a regular basis
Are they meeting when they are nose to nose? Nose to tail? Either way, it is adorable. The work here was done by Paul Spooner. You can find the information about this piece here.
Constructed by Pierre Mayer, the Turk is an Homage to the mechanical turk that became famous in the late 1700s. The real one turned out to be fake, with a human hidden inside and this homage shows that detail delightfully. You can read his thoughts on it here.
I Feel, Therefore I Am
Constructed by Paul Spooner, this one had aparticularly fun and whimsical aesthetic that I love. The fact that it pushes it’s own button makes me think this piece might actually be deeper than it first appears. Find more here.
The Owl & The Pussycat
Incredibly tiny and adorable, this piece made by St. Leger is a fantastic example of the diversity you find in automata. Find more on this one here.
Wiggly Mustache Portrait
Sometimes the inspiration you need to get started is just to see that things don’t need to be complex. “Wiggly Mustache Portrait” by Gary Schott really cracks me up and gives me some ideas for amusing pieces of my own.