Monday, July 03, 2006

Mechanical wonders

Mechanical mermaid Last Friday I took my eldest son, Jacob, to the International Puppet Carnival at Federation Square. It was one of those "last-day-of-school-holidays, let's make the best of it" things.

Besides the lovely puppet show about a tadpole in search of its self, we saw an amazing display of mechanical artwork by David Archer. This mechanical mermaid was my favourite – as you wound the little handle on the side of the glass-fronted case, the shell would open to reveal the mermaid enjoying her fish-and-chips lunch.

Besides the tongue-in-cheek ribaldry, it was the attention to detail that won me. It is an ascending Venus for our age!

Belly-dancerMy other favourite was this risque belly-dancer, whose hips would gyrate and swivell as you wound the lever. The armpit hair was an interesting inclusion!

Jacob got a kick out of looking through the little viewers and peep-holes of the other pieces on display, turning handles and watching what oddity popped out or moved. There were some macabre pieces involving skulls and skeletons, but he didn't seem too fazed by them.

I was amazed to learn that these were no museum pieces from pre-TV carnival days, but new works by the
Adelaide-based artist.

It's a pity that the Carnival finished yesterday, and it will take some other amazing festival or carnival to bring these artworks back to Melbourne. I'm looking forward to this Puppet Carnival becoming an annual event.

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