Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A stop-off at Papatowai, on the drive from Invercargill to Dunedin in South Otago. We had quite a few stops this day. I thought that other than the sea lion, this was the highlight of that leg of the trip, a kind of shop/'gallery'/theatre (performance space?) apparently in the middle of almost-nowhere, and again rather difficult to describe...though something about this picture feels representative.
A fellow called Blair Somerville crouches in a workshop on the right-hand side as you step inside the door to the gallery-cum-curiosity shop. Somerville's 'automata', are perched and arranged in nooks and on shelves throughout what is, in fact, a permanently parked house-bus.
The little machines are made of wires, shells, old electronics, an assortment of the remains of other things, re-assembled to perform new and eclectic tasks. Turn a wire handle, and a 'gurgler' cycles water through a curved shell, making a pleasant throaty sound. Turn another handle and a tiny wire whale spurts copper plumes as its tail undulates. Outside the door, the button (pictured) beckons, and upon pressing it a thin stream of water hits home, the classic clown gag re-worked--and certainly not unwelcome on a warm day in mid-summer.