Autumn outings

This is my first journal post since the Beneath the Beacon exhibition and trail drew to a close in September. After the busyness of the summer spent checking on the figures and mechanisms, hosting visitors and working with local folk musicians on a related song project, the aftermath was something of an anti-climax.

Colonel Rutherford writing home from the front.

Colonel Rutherford writing home from the front.

Since being collected from their temporary homes the characters have taken up residence in my studio. There they jostle and clamour to catch my eye everytime I cross the threshold, clearly impatient to get back in the public gaze.

After the exhibition and trail I’m struggling to know where the characters should go next. I want the whole alphabet to be on display rather than individual figures being shown piecemeal. But this means finding a venue large enough to host all 26 figures or several new locations across Penrith.

I took Colonel Rutherford and Lady Gillford along to the Penrith Remembrance celebrations where they showed off their wartime credentials, the Colonel’s automaton writing home from the North African campaign and the Lady’s knitting socks in response to Kitchener’s Call.

Sarah Losh, the first of the static figures to be reworked as a hand-cranked automaton.

Sarah Losh, the first of the static figures to be reworked as a hand-cranked automaton.

The next outing is planned for Saturday 1 December when Sarah Losh (A is for Architect) will visit the stunning church she designed at Wreay, just south of Carlisle. Along with a few other characters she will feature as part of a performance of songs and poetry inspired by the Beneath the Beacon characters. Tickets are £5 and available from Bookends, 19 Castle Street, Carlisle, or Ad lib, 9b King Street, Penrith, or Wreay Syke Fold, Wreay or call 016974 73744 or 016974 73687.

Sarah’s is the first of the static retablos to be re-worked as a hand-cranked automaton - a process I’ll be undertaking with all of the figures in the coming months. My next journal post will show how she, and her flying dragon, have been animated.

just ten weeks to go...

After more than two years of hard work there are just ten weeks to go until Beneath the Beacon happens. 

The Automaton Alphabet exhibition and trail will go live on 28 July and run until the first weekend in September.  The response from the Penrith shopkeepers has been really positive and we'll soon be announcing the venues that will host the automata. 

Since the website has been live we've had some interesting traffic from China and the Eastern USA as well as dedicated viewers from just across border in Newcastleton and over the Irish Sea in Craigavon.  We hope you like what you see and will make the trip to Penrith to follow the trail.  

In future posts we'll be making connections between the project and related events, themes and places. 

In the meantime here are a couple of photos that appear elsewhere on the website.  The first is Sarah Losh's retablo - A is for Architect.   The second photo is Colonel Rutherford's automaton - C is for Colonel.