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Monday, 24 June 2013

Automata exhibition at the Alternative Technology Centre

On July 1st, an exhibition of automata, from Cabaret Mechanical will be open at the Alternative Technology Centre in Hebden Bridge. The exhibition will be open for the whole of the month of July.

This is a timely return of automata to the upper valley – in 1998 several pieces of a major exhibition piece, the Ride of Life, commissioned by Meadowhall shopping centre, were being constructed at an old mill in the valley.

Automata exhibition at the Alternative Technology Centre

The exhibition was designed by Tim Hunkin and co-ordinated by Sarah Alexander of Cabaret Mechanical of Covent Garden and the local artists working on the pieces (Jane Revitt, Greville White, Andy Plant, Steve Gumbly and Ali Wood, many of whom are still working in the valley) constructed the Chicken Factory, the Launderette and Hell.

Sadly, Meadowhall cancelled the Ride of Life before it was ever installed, the pieces were stored in an old warehouse in Rotherham and since dispersed around the world.

After much discussion with Sarah's daughter – also called Sarah and who now runs the Mechanical Theatre after her mother - 20 pieces of modern automata have arrived here in the valley and will be on show throughout the month of July at the Alternative Technology Centre.

The work includes a piece by Lucy Casson, who was involved in the original Ride of Life, and is also currently constructing an exciting artistic interpretation at Black Pit Lock for Pennine Prospects, as part of their Canal Connections project.

The history of automata is a fascinating one – dating back many hundreds of years, they demonstrated mankind's efforts to imitate life by mechanical means - and as fascinating examples of the intersection of art and science were the very early forerunners of computers and robots.

Polly Webber of the Alternative Technology Centre told the HebWeb: “The mechanical technology involved in the construction of automata spread to other areas such as the textile industry – where the invention of the cam, on which automata is based, made the power weaving loom possible and so the mills in the valley here used and directly benefited from this early technology.”

This wonderful collection of automata is fully interactive and will delight young and old alike. Playful, and beautifully crafted, this exhibition includes automata of national importance and the opportunity to enjoy them in this local setting should not be missed.

Admission to the exhibition will be £3 for adults, £1 for children and is suitable for all ages.

There will also be a workshop in July where people can come and learn the basics of automata making and child friendly automata activity.

For further information, please contact the ATC on 01422 842121 or email.