A Selection of Past Workshops & Events
Should we learn Cantonese or Mandarin was the question for this trip. Both languages are widely spoken. Quite an adventure taking mechanical theatre, automata and learning interactives to the Guangdong Science Centre, July 2016. A tour de force of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, Sharmanka and Fire the Inventor. ‘We’ve never had anything like this before in China’ was a common refrain. The exhibition runs for four months.
Well. as we were in Ghaungzhou, why not pop over to the Inter-Continental Hotel in Hong Kong to do a team-building session with a conference of 400 Gap senior managers from around the world? So our new laser cut automata educational kit took a spot-lit stroll down the Gap catwalk and proved that making mechanisms could down a treat in the corporate conference world. July 2016.
The Mechanical Ensemble workshop was unpacked from its travelling suitcase for the huge four day The Big Bang Fair at Birmingham’s NEC in March 2016, laying down an island of improvised mechanical theatre snugged between the stands of Network Rail, HS2 and a row of university engineering departments.
Hermitage Community Moorings, London, December 2015
Christmas and boat themes merrily crossed in this mechanical art workshop at, and in partnership with, Hermitage Community Moorings on the River Thames, a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge.
Wilton’s Music Hall, London, February 2015
Five days of mechanical indulgence at Wilton’s fabulously charismatic Music Hall, the oldest one still in existence. The event was a mix of day time school and public workshops, two evening adults-only making-as-entertainment evenings with drinks and music, and the chance to press buttons and turn handles with the Mechanicals Exhibition. And we broke the world record for building the longest linked automata at 57 machines which stretched across several tables at 8.5 meters.
Abu Dhabi Science Festival 2013 & 2014
Probably the world’s biggest science festival. For two years we’ve run the cardboard box cam workshop there. It’s madly busy and popular: we set a new record of 937 people in a day (and that’s without acompanying family members). Over 4000 cardboard box automata kits were made at each event, over ten days. See the video.
Filming for BBC Two Design Challenge October 2014
We provided specialist expertise and mechanical resources for a production of BBC Two’s Design Challenge, a design and technology series aimed at teachers and schools. In this project children learned about cams and cogs by designing and constructing a motorised moving window display for a toy shop themed around Roald Dahl. Watch the production here (be patient, it seems to be a slow link!).
Brighton Maker Faire September 2014
Wow, this Maker Faire was marvellously hectic, a single giant hall jam-packed with technology and construction stalls, and a buzzy crowd keen to get making, learning and sharing ideas. Very much hope we’ll be back in 2015.
Cabaret Mechanical Theatre at the Paul McPherson Gallery,
Greenwich, London Winter 2013/14
A programme of different automata-making
workshops for adults, children and families,
such as the two hour Wired Up Evening Workshop.
Mad Lab, Manchester 2013
See the video
Henley Youth Festival 2013 & 2014
Over 60 young people had their first experience of making automata. The results were brilliant, many participants being surprised at their talent in engineered creativity. By the end of the session, the words cam, camshaft and cam follower were to be heard everywhere.
Introduction to Automata-making
for Adults on board MS Stubnitz 2013
See the video
The Rise of the Robots 2013
Fantastic robots using boxes and cam mechanisms made by Year 5 pupils from St John’s Catholic Primary School, as part of a wider school project called ‘The Rise of the Robots’. The robots were linked together to form a single machine. See video
Olympic creativity project ‘Enginuity’ for Camden Community School 2012
Two day end of term mechanical making and art workshop for 20 students of mixed ages and abilities, with the design themed around the Olympics. Using some pre-made components, students made individual crank and cam driven automata, experimenting with and developing further mechanisms and linkages.
Bits ‘n’ Pieces Automata Workshop 2011
Fire the Inventor’s first ever one-day automata-making workshop. For adults, we provided a workshop space, tools, materials and a collective mechanical-making vibe, not to mention a robotic parrot which kept everyone well entertained. See video
Make it Move workshops at the Science Museum, London
“We were at the Science Museum this week and made with our children your models. Our kids absolutely loved making the moving models, as did we.” Fiona Oliver and Anna Colton See video
Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2011
The Ensemble automata workshop turned intellectual and academic at a TAPRA conference at Kingston Uniiversity. Theatre and performance academics and practioners gamely participated in the workshop and afterwards gleefully theorised on the experience, including whether a making workshop could be a performance.
“What a great event you all put on Friday at the V&A so much energy and enthusiasm
it was contagious I went homebuzzing, so thank you for that. It was such a thrill to observe
people engaging and getting stuck into making stuff”
Tamara Violaris, artist.