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  • Liz Smith
  • Automata: Artist In Residence at Imaginosity

    Created 2011-10-23 by Liz Smith

    Location: Imaginosity, Sandyford, Dublin 18 - Co. Dublin

    Duration: 2011-10-23 to 2011-11-13

Project Outline

This Autumn, I was lucky enough to be awarded with a residency at Imaginosity, Dublin Children’s Museum. I’ve chosen to use this opportunity to explore an artform which I’ve admired for many years. It’s been a long held ambition of mine to create Automata and to teach this artform, which is on the one hand complex and on the other, highly entertaining, fascinating and often comical. The staff at Imaginosity have been extremely supportive in allowing me weeks to devise, create prototypes and prepare for my Automata workshops. I enjoy a challenge and invariably propose workshops in themes or mediums that are uncharted territory for me. This method is partly what mantains my interest and passion in what I do.

Currently I am working with seven children over five days to produce various projects. I began easing the participants into the concept of automata, by introducing them to a more accessible and simple form of paper engineering, that is pop-ups. We then transitioned into creating two-dimensional Mechanical Toys. Day two and already we were creating Automata, albeit simple ones with ’up and down’ movements. Through the process of understanding the mechanics of Automata, the children are learning many unfamiliar words/terms, such as shaft, rod, washer, cam, hinge and the cause and effect of these mechanical parts in action. Day two, the children were provided with the elements to create a mechanical sculpture and my job was to take them through the steps of gluing the parts together and leaving them to their own devises in the design of the characters. Since the medium is instruction heavy I decided to forsake the use of a theme, which would warrant further discussion and direction; in this case the medium is definitely the message.

Day three, I decided to take the mechanical work away from the young artists, so that they could turn their energies toward a more complex design and I think they appreciated this; as, though I know they are all really enjoying themselves, 5-8 year olds really do not have enough concentration for this type of attention to detail. I always knew this workshop would be more suited to 8-12 years; even teenagers, but it’s a challenge that I wanted to meet and it’s experimental, which is my comfort zone. Anyway, the results of day three were great and the children are beginning to get their heads around paper engineering and Automata

For Day four I plan to collaborate with the children on some giant pop-ups, in order to give them a more enjoyable, fun day. Day five however, will be again more challenging and I hope, the most spectacular and productive day. I’ll keep you posted!

I’d like to thank Imaginosity for their support and trust in me



Project Details

  • Location: Imaginosity, Sandyford, Dublin 18
  • From date: 2011-10-23
  • To date: 2011-11-13
  • Length: est three weeks total
  • Participants per session: Maximun ten
  • Participants in total: 30
  • Contact hours: 22
  • Age range of participants:
    8-11, 5-7
  • County(ies):

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