Exhibition Spotlight: Marvellous Mechanicals

In September 2020, Gosport Gallery welcomed fun automata show Marvellous Mechanicals from Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. This colourful exhibition, suitable for all ages, features mechanical sculptures with clever mechanisms and often humorous ideas.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre was started by Sue Jackson as an arcade amusement shop in Falmouth during the 1970s. In the 1980s, the group uprooted to Covent Garden. Today their automata have travelled across the globe and have been seen by over 10 million people worldwide!

During lockdown, the power of technology has allowed us to showcase the exhibition online and bring the magic of these automata to you. Have a go at navigating the exhibition in the 360 tour and then try the activities below.

The Automata Creators

Do you have a favourite machine in the exhibition? If so, which one? Here are a few of our visitors’ choices.

 ‘Falmouth Jungle’ by Peter Markey
‘The Gentleman’ by Carlos Zapata

For more information on the artists in the exhibition, please visit Cabaret Mechanical Theatre's website.

Join in - spotter quiz

Can you find these items in the exhibition virtual tour?

1)     The blue and green triangle pattern base

2)     The mystical mermaid on the wall

3)     The frog and the pear hand-operated interactive machine

4)     The cat drinking the poisoned milk automata machine by Paul Spooner

5)     The orange and blue diamond pattern base

6)     The monkey eating a banana by Carlos Zapata

7)     ‘The Language of Birds’ automata machine by Fi Henshall

8)     A man eating spaghetti in the bathtub by Paul Spooner

9)     A cat holding a cat in a jack-in-the-box

10)  A grasshopper

How many automata were there in the gallery in total? You can use this picture to help you.

a) 18

b) 20

c) 22

Why not have a go at making your own cardboard automata at home? It’s fun and easy, using things you may be able to find around the house. Please note these activities require adult supervision.

If you really want to do a fun challenge, why not try making this green pepper monster or taking breakfast to another whole level! Don’t forget to tag Hampshire Cultural Trust with your creations on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


If you have enjoyed Culture on Call and you are able to make a donation, please click the link below. Any support you can give will help us keep communities connected to culture in these difficult times.

Donate Now | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Our venues are safe and inclusive spaces that provide great cultural experiences at the heart of our communities and connect everyone to Hampshire’s rich heritage.We welcome over 700,000 visitors to our venues each year and also work with over 2,000 people annually who are vulnerable or who otherwi…
This article was written by:
Author image

Hampshire Cultural Trust

From museums to galleries to arts centres, we manage and support 23 attractions across the county, welcoming over 740,000 people each year. Our charitable purpose is changing lives through culture.
You've successfully subscribed to Culture on Call
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Culture on Call
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.