Issue 56: The Sharmanka Theatre

Suddenly, on television last night, there was a short visit by some “celeb” or other to the Sharmanka Theatre exhibition in Glasgow. I have always loved automata, and there has been a long tradition of this kind of model making. Years ago we used to make a point of always visiting a shop/exhibition every year in Falmouth. I think it was called “Cabaret”, and was full of crazy moving models.It disappeared one year, and we rediscovered it in Covent Garden some time later. I have no idea if it is still there.

There have been the Heath Robinson contraptions,

and the Emett machines

and more recently the mad inventions in the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and the “Wallace and Gromit” films.

I tracked down the information about the Sharmanka Theatre and found this wonderful Youtube video, uploaded by Sharmanka11. It shows the various contraption twisting and turning creating a weird and wonderful mix of sounds.  I haven’t watched it all, so cannot guarantee that it would all be suitable for children. The opening sequences would make a wonderful starting point for compositions/dance.movement/instrument making based on topics like machines, clockwork, puppets, etc. Their website is here:


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