Emett’s Marvellous Machines

IMG_3134If you are over 40 you may remember the marvelous and utterly eccentric mechanical creations of Rowland Emett (1906-1990). You may recall that his machines became famous with their appearance at the 1951 Festival of Britain and other events of the time.

You can see some of his constructions in  the Gas Hall of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, in Chamberlain Square every day from now until 21 September.

If you haven’t seen his creations before in real life and in motion you are in for a treat!

They appeal equally to children and grown-ups.

As well as some of his mechanical objects which actually come to life every so often, there is a  wealth of drawings and recorded video interviews with famous BBC presenters such as Malcolm Muggeridge.

What you may not know was that he must have gained at least some of his ingenuity and creativity from being educated in Birmingham….

According to Wikipedia he was:

“born in New Southgate, London, the son of a businessman and amateur inventor, and the grandson of Queen Victoria’s engraver.
He was educated at Waverley Grammar School in Birmingham, where he excelled in drawing, caricaturing his teachers and vehicles and machinery. When he was only 14 he took out a patent on a gramophone volume control. He studied at Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts and one of his landscapes, Cornish Harbour, was exhibited at the Royal Academy; it is now in the Tate collection.”

So I think we can claim he was a local star, see Wikipedia article for more information.

Below are some photos and  two videos I’ve taken in the exhibition.

(Click here to find out how to get the best out of all photos on this page.)



Geoff Caine

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