Pop-Up Workshop: Fire The Inventor at Platform

As part of the Craft Council’s exhibition, A Curious Turn, currently whirring into gear at Platform, there’s a chance for everyone (even the youngest members of your crew) to create their own automata as part of a pop-up workshop hosted by Fire the Inventor. Taking place on Saturday 24 September from 2-5pm, visitors can create their own automata then connect it with others to create a long snaking line of cams, colours and shapes.

We talked to Stephen Guy about his company and what you can expect from the workshop.

Tell us about Fire the Inventor.
Fire the Inventor is London-based company that runs mechanical art workshops as a teaching resource. We travel anywhere and have just got back from projects in China and Hong Kong. Our next overseas booking is likely to be the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. For me, Fire the Inventor is the vent for my inner engineer and artist, entertainer and educator inclinations. In school-speak, Fire the Inventor is putting the A into STEM subjects (that’s adding ‘Art’ to ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Automata from the pop-up workshop hosted by Fire the Inventor.

How did you get started?
I got started working at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre as a part-time job while doing a History Ph.D. The history studies faded away as I found playing around, making objects move, far more rewarding!

What can we expect from the workshop you are hosting at Platform?
Part workshop, part performance, part exhibit, the Mechanical Ensemble Workshop combines construction, art and engineering while learning some basics about mechanical movement and control.

From a pile of push-fit components and a junk box of colourful random objects, people make their own little machines which are linked together to create a single snaking line of spinning cams, colours and shapes powered by a motor. It’s an attention-grabbing kinetic artwork, the longest in the world we like to think.

It’s suitable for all ages (youngest children will need adult help). You can see the workshop in action at the Big Bang Fair 2016 here.

Partnering with such an original as Habitat will provide a fantastic showcase for our work to new audiences.

What makes Fire the Inventor unique?
Combining artistic flair with the practical aspects of teaching resources. Teaching resources can be dull and unengaging, designed by technicians without creative flair. Success for us is to get children laughing. When you’ve caught their attention, they learn without even realising it.

What exciting projects do you have coming up?
The most exciting project in the pipeline is breaking into the Chinese schools and colleges market with our mechanical-art teaching resources and touring more Chinese science centres and museums with the marvellous Mechanical Toys Exhibition (a Cabaret Mechanical Theatre and Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre production). For the Chinese, we are introducing a uniquely UK flavour of inventiveness and creativity to the teaching process. ‘We’ve never seen anything like this in China!’ was a common refrain.

Fire the Inventor Workshop at Platform

2-5pm, Saturday 25 September

Platform, Habitat, 1st Floor, 208 King’s Road,London SW3 5XP

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