Among the objects in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, one of the most popular is Tipu’s Tiger, an Indian automaton of a tiger mauling a European soldier.
Tipu’s Tiger. Image copyrighted by the Victoria & Albert Museum. Click for source.
Tipu’s Tiger was created around 1795 for the Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The tiger was the sultan’s emblem and the symbolism here is quite blatant: a sign of the sultan’s power over European forces. The figure was crafted using Indian materials and design, with French mechanics. Inside the tiger is a mechanical organ, cogwheel and worm gear, with 36 brass pipes, leather bellows, button keys. By turning a crankshaft on the left side of the Tiger, air is pumped into the bellows of the Tiger and it emits a wailing shriek from the soldier (and twitching hand) and a mighty roar from the Tiger. The buttons keys on its side allow people to play music on the Tiger.
Note: Cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.
Meta (mee-tah) Vaux Warrick Fuller was not the first African-American sculptress–that would be Edmonia Lewis–but she became the most prominent. She was born in 1877 to a prominent Philadelphia family, her father a successful barber and her mother an equally successful beautician. Raised in relative financial comfort, and educated in the typical feminine graces of the time, Fuller’s career as an artist began in high school, when one of her projects was chosen for inclusion in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This work won her a full scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art, where she received her diploma and teacher’s certificate. During her time at PMSIA, one of her first original pieces in clay was a head of Medusa, which “with its hanging jaw, beads of gore, and eyes starting from their sockets, marked her as a sculptor of the horrible.” She won further prizes for her work, receiving a prize for metal work with a crucifix upon which hung the figure of Christ torn by anguish, and an honourable mention for her work in modeling. She then won, in her post-graduate studies, the George K. Crozier first prize for the best general work in modeling for the piece “Procession of Arts and Crafts.”
Filed under Essays, History
“Soldier II” 1994. Image courtesy of the artist’s site. Click for source.
“What I try to get behind is why it is so difficult for people to change from their old ways. It hasn’t worked out the way I imagined. People who thought they were superior before haven’t really changed. I try to find out through studying history what gives people the right to think that way. I try to find a solution, not to be disappointed, to reach an understanding.” – Willie Bester (source)
Junk art á la Mad Max takes steampunk one step away from Victoriana elegance and optimistic gaslamp cheer and one madcap dive bomb toward the realm of the dystopian. The gritty, industrial sense of steampunk isn’t seen in much art other than the tastefully rusted flash drives or the gentleman hobos with their finger-less gloves and worn-edged bowler hats. But the ideas of using found materials, D.I.Y. and re-structuring trash into art fit easily within the maker and punk tenants that steampunk has acquired.