Two reasons prompted me to return to Birmingham:-
1. I’d been in town recently and noted that the Emett exhibition was on in the Birmingham Art Gallery Gas Hall and,
2. I’m kind of missing the Emett Water Clock that used to live in the Victoria Shopping Centre.
I’d have to say that I thought the Exhibition was well worth the £5 entrance fee.
If you can resist the urge to dash into the main hall where all the whirring machines are on display you are treated to a potted life story of the man.
There are lots of his cartoons from the Punch magazine that he contributed to and some lovely artefacts from the Festival of Britain including a cine camera
film of the long dismantled ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway’ which carried over 2 million people around the festival site.
The urge to dash into the main hall became too much and it’s sort of three main areas; the machines from the Chitty Citty Bang Bang movie, machines that were comissioned by corporate companies as promotional material(?) (they obviously had more imagination and humour than they do today) and the Cloud Cuckoo Valley mechanical railway
Starting with Chitty. In the movie the machines feature as Caractacus Potts’ crazy creations.
There’s the Clockwork Lullabye Machine to help you sleep at night; the Hot Air Rocking Chair, complete with fitted carpet slippers; the Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper which looks rather like a useful, mechanical pet with bellows; and, more exotically, The Exploratory Lunacycle – a dustpan and bicycle version of an Apollo Moon Rover, operated by a spindly moustachioed pilot wearing a gold fish bowl and colander helmet, followed by the wacky golfing machine
But my favourite was the FeatherstoneFlying machine. Just loved it,especially the cat.
The following video captures the exhibition better than words and photos can, simply because you have to see the machines in motion to appreciate the crazy beauty of it all.
And a mini Featherstone Gallery that I loved so much.