Friday, 23 October 2009

World's First Museum Steampunk Art Exhibition (allegedly)


Ah, academics! Tucked away in their Ivory Towers, the world passing them by in their blissful ignorance. At least, that is the perception which prevails. As an academic myself, my approach towards steampunk is naturally through academic goggles, as it were. As you may be aware, I try to do things a little differently here, and bring academic ventures into steampunk out of the shadows and into the light of the wider world - knowledge is useless unless it is shared!

The new exhibition taking place at Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science may be, as is claimed, the world's first museum steampunk art exhibition. I can think of at least two other steampunk art exhibitions previous to this - one hosted online by ESBQart, and the Anarchotechnofetishism exhibition of "artefacts by pioneers of American steampunk", hosted by Halogen in Seattle last year. I have absolutely no doubt that there are many, many more of which you are aware., but this latest is surely to be welcomed!

This exhibition does look enticing, inviting you to

Imagine the technology of today with the aesthetic of Victorian science. From redesigned practical items to fantastical contraptions, this exhibition, curated by Art Donovan, showcases the work of eighteen Steampunk artists from across the globe.
Expect ’steam-powered’ computer mice, clockwork hearts, brass goggles and the latest state-of-the-Steampunk-art eye-pod…

This is nothing new to 'punks, but very new to the great unwashed masses of the British public. What makes this worthwhile is that it is being curated by the genius that is Art Donovan, of whom I have reported before.

More than this, the exhibition aims to bring the world of steampunk to students, with a competition running to coincide with the event. To coincide with the exhibition, Secondary School Art and D&T departments are invited to submit students’ work to The Great Steampunk Art and Design Competition! More details, if you are lucky enough to fall into the entry categories, may be found via downloadable pdf here.

The organisers have certainly achieved a coup d'art in that the Museum's Broadsheet bulletin features the work of Sydney Padua, in a specially commissioned strip of her brilliant Lovelace and Babbage comic featuring Oxford. Ms Padua's wonderfully irreverant creation may be found at 2DGoggles, and, if you are new to Lovelace and Babbage, I suggest you click here to start your journey of discovery.

The exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science runs from 13 October 2009 until 21 February 2010. The Museum may be found at Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AZ. Mr Donovan has created a blog for the event, which may be found here, and which contains images from the exhibition.

For some truly awe-inspiring steampunk artwork in wood, you really need to see the work of Michael Rea, more of which will be posted in due course...