I recently met David Archer at Bowerbird last month. I was intrigued by the array of old world fairground style amusement machines that he had constructed. I must admit I was taken back to my early years and an early Tom Hanks movie “Big” which featured one of these apparatuses.
His exhibition Archer’s Arcadia is from 10am -5pm daily at the institute building at the State Library. David is also running a number of workshops through the school holidays for students to come and build their very own hand cranked automaton!
David Archer was born in Victoria and grew up in the Adelaide hills. He states his mechanical interests probably stemmed from his father; a mechanical engineer and part time inventor. In his youth he was often rewarded with a trip to the local refuse tip where he obtained all manner of gadgets which he would disassemble and analyse.
Often referred to as automata, David’s artwork moves with a mechanism powered by a coin operated motor or a simple hand crank.
The appeal to his work particularly in our technology flooded society is the old world charm of early 20th century gadgetry. Nothing here is particularly “high tech” as we have come to know it today; there are gears and pulleys, hand cranks and fairground music. Fortunes are told and characters are met. I think that is the appeal, these hand constructed works, some of which have taken over 400 hours to complete are marvels in every sense of the word.
Many constructions are social commentary themed works which use humour as a means to communicate.