Marvellous Mechanicals Rolls Into Basingstoke

  • Skellies by Wanda Sowry

The critically acclaimed Marvellous Mechanicals are rolling into Hampshire this autumn.

The exhibition at Basingstoke’s Willis Museum features ten modern automata - or mechanical sculptures - with clever mechanisms and often humorous themes that will be an absolute delight for visitors of all ages.

The automata in Marvellous Mechanicals are on tour from Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, whose exhibits have been enjoyed by thousands of visitors in China, Korea and the USA, with the collection being seen by over ten million people worldwide over the past 30 years.

As the name suggests, Marvellous Mechanicals is a chance to join with family and friends and not only marvel at these comical masterpieces, which come to life at the push of a button, but also to get involved, as some of them need you to get hands-on and understand how they work for yourself.

An undoubted highlight of the exhibition is Paul Spooner’s How to Live No 17: Spaghetti. What better place is there to practise the messy art of learning how to eat spaghetti, than the bath? Tomato sauce and parmesan cheese are provided on tap!

How to live

Fish by Matt Smith stars two comical goldfish swimming in perfect unison. Thanks to an ingenious mechanism, they can even turn around and keep in time. In Large Green Jungle, Peter Markey has created a busy rainforest full of colourful animals. His mechanical style, using simple cams and cranks, really brings the scene to life.


Marvellous Mechanicals also features a display of amusing, circus-themed artworks especially commissioned for the show by talented Hampshire-based illustrator, Sam Hiscock.

During October half-term week, the Willis Museum is hosting a series of Make Your Own Marvellous Machine workshops on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 October, when adults and children over the age of five can exercise their creative and engineering skills, whilst also learning some of the basics about the science of mechanical movement.

To book a place in one of the Make Your Own Marvellous Machine workshops, please call 01256 465902 or pop in to the Willis Museum. Marvellous Mechanicals runs until 18 December. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Pirates by Wanda Sowry