In an age oversaturated with digital art and entertainment, Melbourne artist Mark Ogge has drawn on the centuries-old tradition of mechanical automata and coin-operated attractions to create a work of great immediacy and charm.
The large, three-dimensional, mechanically operated diorama is reminiscent of Martin Engelbrecht’s 18th century miniature paper theatres. The delicate hand-drawn characters perform on an intricate stage, evoking the archetypes of circus and vaudeville, each character a highly original creation in itself. The exhibition includes a number of the original design artworks, giving an insight into the creative process.
Mark Ogge is well known for prominent public commissions in Australia and internationally, including the façade of the The Famous Spiegeltent that periodically adorns the Arts Centre Melbourne’s forecourt; the huge newly installed carnival figures at Melbourne’s Luna Park; and works to embellish several theatrical productions created by the US based Spiegelworld.
The Circus Automata was commissioned by Spiegelworld to celebrate the world premiere of its production Vegas Nocturne in Las Vegas in January 2014. Spiegelworld Impresario Ross Mollison has generously lent the Automata to the Arts Centre Melbourne for the Circus Automata exhibition.
“It has been great collaborating with the Spiegelworld team and Ross Mollison on this project” says Ogge. “They have been incredibly supportive, and I think the Automata really complements their fabulous shows.”
The Arts Centre Melbourne has previously hosted a solo exhibition Smoke and Mirrors by Mark Ogge in 2004, commissioned his Spiegelgarden Towers installation the same year, and has several of his original artworks in its permanent collection.
“It’s an honour to exhibit again at the Arts Centre Melbourne”, says Ogge. “It is an enormously important cultural institution for Melbourne, supporting much of the best performing and visual arts for decades.
“Over the years, I have also drawn on their amazing Performing Arts Collection to develop the very characters that have come to life in the Automata.”
The Circus Automata exhibition can now be viewed for free in the Smorgon Family Plaza of the Arts Centre Melbourne until March 20 2016.