Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tim Lewis' fantastical imagined machines made real

Coming from Pinner, home of cartoonist, illustrator and some would say inventor Heath Robinson (there's a museum you know) I'm used to see fantastical drawings of mechanical objects conjured up from the mind of a man who clearly thought very differently to the rest of us. But he did have one fault, none of his brilliantly technical drawings ever realised themselves into real life working machines. Making dreamt up machines has not been a problem for Tim Lewis whose show, Mechanisms opened at Flowers Gallery on Kingsland Road this week.

All the mechanisms that Tim Lewis sketches eventually make it into real life. His art is the development process of making his sketches (and thoughts) come to life, the fitting together of parts, the sourcing of materials and the electronic programming all fall into Lewis' developmental process and his way of exploring his thinking.

These mechanisms can take the shape of anything; Pann is a pair of goat legs with a human-like skull which walks along a semi-circular line, I filmed the maquette of Pann at the opening which you can watch below.

In the middle of the gallery is Jetsam (sketch and photo above), a kiwi-bird-like uni-wheeled machine attached to a metal arm restricting it to a circular space in the middle of the gallery as it goes about it's pre-programmed business collecting foam cylinders to make a nest. Jetsam potters about in an undefined fashion, picking up and moving the blocks around as it goes. Very sweet. The workings of the machine are on show and only covered briefly by a mesh covered in a small amount of feathers offering an insight into how the bird moves about. I'd like to think that by exposing the mechanics of his mechanisms Lewis is some how letting us into his brain a little bit.

All these machines move about so calmly, I had expected them to be jumpy and the gallery to be filled with lots of noise, but the gathered crowd was not overpowered by any clanging or mechanical sounds. The noisiest machine being an arm which repeatedly wrote on a strip of metal until the paper was pulled along and it could start again which you can see below. The lack of noise and smooth movement of the mechanisms is perhaps a testimony to the talent of Tim Lewis to bring his sketches to life so brilliantly and seamlessly. I'm hoping to go back down to Flowers again as I'd like to see if the mechanisms are different with less people about.

Tim Lewis Mechanisms runs until April 14 at Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP

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