Monday, 5 July 2010

Theo Jansen

It is easy to tell that the summer is upon us as everywhere is having "festivals". I have already been to the Babbacombe + Saint Marychurch Festival in Torquay - I saw The Black Bess Morris Dancers and The Krankies! I didn't bother with the B.M.A.D. Festival in Paignton - not being a fan of Motorbikes and/or Rock Music and I truly missed the Dartington Festival due to what I wanted to see being on in the evening and I could not get a babysitter. Sorry Max!
The end of June, beginning of July is Exeter Festival and this year it opened with a performance / exhibition by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. The venue was Exmouth beach on the hottest day of the year! Theo is a sculptor, he builds "Strandbeests" (Dutch for "Sand Beasts"....I think) out of plastic tubing......Here is an extract from Theo's promotional blurb:
"Since 1990 I have been occupied creating new forms of life. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. I make skeletons that are able to walk in the wind, so they don't have to eat. Over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives".
Truly fantastic stuff. At Exmouth Theo was exhibiting his creation; "Ventosa Siamesis". This Strandbeest took a year to build. To see the creation walk of its' own accord was an amazing sight - and sound. I went with the family, including my Father-In-Law Dr. Bill Parker, an ex Physics lecturer from Exeter University, and the mechanics of this beast had him flummoxed!
The creature walked about ten feet unassisted. Conditions were not too kind - hardly any wind but it was truly a fascinating sight.
Dr. Parker will be trying to build a Strandbeest on Dartmoor later this month......
Next stop. Wattsfest, Uffculme this weekend.

1: Theo and Ventosa Siamesis.
2: Dr. Bill Parker trying to figure it out.
3: Theo giving a Q&A session.
4: Me and the Strandbeest.
5: Camera footage.

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