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, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Heath_Robinson
and the Emett machines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Rowland_Emett
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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7aV8snziI0&feature=related, 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: http://www.sharmanka.com/Home/Welcome.html