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For the cog-noscenti

Marvellous Mechanicals at the Willis Museum, Basingstoke

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

For the cog-noscenti


The critically-acclaimed Marvellous Mechanicals currently on show at Basingstoke’s Willis Museum features 10 modern automata – or mechanical sculptures – with clever mechanisms and often humorous themes that will absolutely delight visitors of all ages.

The automata are on tour from Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, whose exhibits have been enjoyed by thousands of visitors in China, Korea and the US, with the collection being seen by more than 10 million people worldwide over the past 30 years. As the name suggests, Marvellous Mechanicals is a chance to join with family and friends and not only marvel at these comical masterpieces, which come to life at the push of a button, or turn of a handle, but also to get involved, as some of them need you to get hands-on and understand how they work for yourself.

An undoubted highlight of the exhibition is Paul Spooner’s How to Live No 17: Spaghetti. What better place is there to practise the messy art of learning how to eat spaghetti, than the bath? Tomato sauce and parmesan cheese are provided on tap... Fish by Matt Smith stars two comical goldfish swimming in perfect unison. Thanks to an ingenious mechanism, they can even turn around and keep in time. In Large Green Jungle, Peter Markey has created a busy rainforest full of colourful animals. His mechanical style, using simple cams and cranks, really brings the scene to life. Marvellous Mechanicals also features a display of amusing, circus-themed artworks especially commissioned for the show by talented Hampshire-based illustrator Sam Hiscock.

Visit for opening times

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