Hastings Pier exhibition will explore varied history of automata

Matt Smith's 'Fish' exhibit SUS-180220-170619001
Matt Smith's 'Fish' exhibit SUS-180220-170619001

A month-long exhibition celebrating the history and development of automata starts next month.

Hastings Pier, with Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, is holding the event from March 15 to April 15, running from 10am to 5pm each day.

Automata on the Pier, a collaboration between Hastings Pier and the community interest arts company, Culture Shift, will feature works by renowned artists Paul Spooner, Keith Newstead, Ron Fuller, Peter Markey, Matt Smith and Carlos Zapata, as well as creations by members of the Craftivist Network, a consortium of community organisations.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre has curated automata exhibitions worldwide including Japan, China, Australia, Europe and the USA.

Dan Matthews, co-ordinator from Hastings Pier Charity, said: “This unique show will celebrate the history and development of automata in the context of Hastings Pier’s own rich heritage as an iconic destination for visitors from all over the world, celebrating the diverse creative, scientific and engineering skills of experts and the town’s people themselves. A wide reaching community project is also running alongside the exhibition, which includes workshops for 400 families and 150 school children, as well as a two-month mentoring scheme for people from seven community groups who are making their own automata pieces for the exhibition. The project is an extraordinary opportunity for the community to be immersed in an internationally recognised arts project, and a golden chance to entice art enthusiasts from across the country to visit the town.”

Exhibition highlights will include Matt Smith’s swimming fish Peter Markey’s wave machines and Paul Spooner’s famous spaghetti-eating man in a bath.

Both Paul and Peter created pieces for Sue Jackson, the artist who owned and ran the original Cabaret as a craft shop in Falmouth, Cornwall in 1979 before moving in 1984 to Covent Garden, where for more than 15 years it acquired a cult following and attracted visitors and collectors from around the globe.

Culture Shift’s Catherine Orbach said: “We work to engage audiences who often don’t connect with the arts and cultural activities in town. It is a real delight to have brought this exhibition to the pier and see the Craftivists centre stage in this project.”