Clog dancing

There was a fascinating exhibition at Compton Verney this summer all about ingenious automata and different mechanical models. There’s a good review – with links – here.

Lots of fun but, underneath, there was also a strand which explored our relationship with the machines we make. C and I were riveted by a video of clog dancing – steps learned from an elderly mill worker – demonstrating the dances that developed in counterpoint to the machines the women worked amongst. Here’s the video now. There are some introductory scenes (which are worth watching) but if its the dancing you’ve come for start at two minutes in.

Clog dancing

Bridget Riley (and others) at Compton Verney

Op-art as a movement became questionable – said a note on the wall – because it was too readily accessible.

Well, whoever those sour faced guardians of the difficult and obscure were, they were quite right. The gallery at Compton Verney yesterday was full of people exploring the optical effects of the prints and structures and simply enjoying themselves.

It was playful; it surprised and entertained; it involved you in a real exploration the way eyes, brain and body were caught up in the artist’s constructions. There was – to me – an unexpected delight in the absolute precision of it all – a wondrous meeting point between art, science and engineering.

The only downside was that, after an hour or more, you felt you needed something solid and ordinary to rest your eyes and get your balance back.

No photographs were allowed except of this magical installation by Liz West that gave us rainbows for shadows and, as you moved around, seemed to conjure new colours out of nothing at all. You had to be there – but in lieu, here are photos and an explanation of how the effect was achieved:

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Bridget Riley (and others) at Compton Verney