Saturday, July 2, 2011

Deus Ex Machina - An exhibition in 2010

This time last year William was furiously working on a collection of work for his Julia deVille curated group show at Sophie Gannon Gallery. This body of work fused 18th century style dioramas with taxidermy, jewellery, and fantasy. Dioramas - originally a Parisian pre-cinematic form of entertainment and education - explore the ways we know and understand the world. They simulate the terrain of life, and preserve it, as if in a time capsule. This collection of works saw William scrupulously hand create intricate worlds that distorted reality and history through a dreamlike lens. The works contained a rich historical undercurrent, seeming to depict elements of 18th century life, but instead of humans being present, these scenes of the museum, ballet, and the circus were enacted entirely by animals. The truth and the imaginary became entwined, blurring the lines between historical fact and fiction. 

The works gave us a glimpse into the mind of William, who devised, memorised and created these intricate pieces without a single hand drawn sketch. In a time when we are often preoccupied with time saving technology, it is incredible how many hundreds of hours went into meticulously inventing and constructing these small worlds. Every element was handcrafted, from the wax carved and brass cast feet of the boxes, the hand turned wooden handles, the fully lined animals garments and velvet curtains, the silver, brass and cubic zirconia soldered chandeliers and trees, the hand engraved name plates. But perhaps the most beautiful component of all was silent and almost entirely hidden; the machine behind the scenes. Every element of movement and lighting was intricately linked to a stunning series of gears, cogs, magnets and weights concealed in the walls and floor that were hand cut and soldered to seamlessly culminate into the turn of one handle.

There are hasty videos of the three dioramas in motion HERE

Below is some documentation of their intricate and magical construction...
The mice were caught over a period of a year by William's cat 'Prince'. They were taxidermed and fully lined costumes were tailored for them by fashion designer Alice Edgeley

"The Ring Master" - from the "Circo de los Rodores" diorama

One of three ballerinas from the "Swan Lake" diorama

Constructing the silver chandelier from the "Swan Lake" diorama.

The chandelier was fitted with tiny light bulbs inside the quartz crystal, that lit up when the handle was turned.

A video: We have light!