A Funny Turn

Automata might be described as cyclically moveable sculptures, though that covers only one aspect.  As an artform, they range from child-like toys to deeply serious [though usually wry] comments on the human condition.  “A Funny Turn” celebrates the internationally-recognized maker Paul Spooner’s 70th birthday year.  New pieces by him and a host of fellow makers in the field show alongside, in his honour.  His circle includes many other creatives, also co-exhibiting.
Though their appeal is very wide, automata are oddball and almost impossible to categorize, attracting a similar sort of maker and admirer.

Paul Spooner

A founder exhibitor in the Falmouth shop Cabaret (later to become the UK’s foremost automata centre), Spooner is revered (which makes this most modest of men cringe!) wherever automata are mentioned.  He continues to explore the field, this year venturing into making organs, using pre-punched paper (barrel-organ style) and small bellows (a perennial interest) to play the music.  His choice to remain in west Cornwall, while other exhibitors, and Cabaret itself, left the area for other pastures, has created a small cluster of automatists there, the highest concentration in the world.

automata of Fish by Jan Zalud


Keith NEWSTEAD    Ian McKAY Lucy CASSON    Esther SMITH Neil HARDY    Andrew LANYON Peter LENNERTZ    Robert RACE Jan ZALUD are just some of the makers tipping their hats to Paul Spooner to wish him Many Happy Returns.  Many more to be added to the updated version of this list

The First's Christmas Show logo

Next Exhibition

Sat 10th – Sun 27th November “The First” mounts its 44th consecutive exhibition in the Xmas season.  Expect its usual cornucopia of well-made, hard-to-source and unusual crafts and art, priced with an eye for The Season of Goodwill and Tight Budgets.
2018 marks 50 years since their very first stumbling efforts in this sequence (but not counted in the 44, as there was a break after 1969) and there’ll be a small recreation of the display, with some of the original early exhibits.