Driving along in the tumbling hills of the Catlins on New Zealand’s South Island you can stumble across some ‘curios’ places (sorry for the cheesy wordplay – the bay close by is called Curio Bay). The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowai is an incredible little place.
Pretty much stuck in the middle of nowhere on one of the most Southern tips of the world, surrounded by astonishing landscapes and secluded beaches is a little caravan with mechanical sculptures and handmade fountains. Coming closer you realise that most of these objects are made of recycled materials, such as scrap metal, old bottles and Paua shells.
When you step into the small bus housing the Lost Gypsy Gallery, cluttered with fantastic tiny little machines or mechanical toys, it is like entering the world of an eccentric genius which is exactly what it is. The walls are covered in small circuits and retro posters of old cartoons and advertisements.
Large rounded pearly shells are connected to one another with wires and suspended over a small dish of water, as you turn them they scoop up the water making trickling sounds as the water splashes out again. There are small machines operated by tiny motors or complex mechanical functions everywhere and a little train track reaches all around the little bus on which you can watch a tiny train whizzing past you.
Outside there is a small aluminium caravan which sells delicious coffee, next to it are seats and benches made of reclaimed wood and decorated with glass bottle parts, shells and other discarded materials.
Next to the old gypsy bus is the entrance to the Winding Thoughts Theatre which is full of fun ‘toys’ for grown ups. The star attraction being the piano – each key is connected to an object that makes a sound.
One is connected to a mannequin head covered in dreadlocks fastened with bells, another to a drum while one is connected to a tape recorder running on a circuit.
The complex structure allows you to create a one man band which screeches along and often triggers moving objects. The whole experience is a lot of fun mainly because of the creative energy the place exerts and all the eccentric and brilliant inventions surrounding you.
You can find the creator Blair Somerville working away in his workshop attached to The Lost Gypsy Gallery surrounded by circuits and small tools building numerous mechanical objects. He has been working on this project for the last 15 years adding more and more ambitious pieces to it as he goes along. Each piece is like a work of art, created from discarded or found materials and brought back to life with Blair’s impressive skill and vivid imagination.
Since the London Design Festival started last Friday exhibitions are popping up all over the capitol. From over 300 hundred different events to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are the best picks for recycled related design events and exhibitions.
Tent London is regarded as the most cutting-edge and progressive trade exhibition during the London Design Festival. Housed in the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, it has a huge range of independent and fascinating designers exhibiting their work. Tent runs from 20-23 September.
100% Design is the largest and most prestigious single-site design event in the UK, it hosts a huge range of brilliant design talent from all around the world. From the 19-22 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre 2, Warwick Road, London, SW5 9TA.
Decorex is a huge design show held at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, this is for those with expensive taste, showing high end international interior design exhibits. From 23-26 September at Royal Hospital Road, London, Greater London SW3 4SR.
At the DesignJunction the sustainable exhibition 2nd Cycle will feature Artek, a Finnish furniture company, which seek to highlight the issue of conscious consuming and authentic design through an upcycling project. Their philosophy promotes traditional craftsmanship with modern interventions. “Nothing old is ever reborn but neither does it totally disappear. And that which has once been born, will always reappear in a new form.” -Alvar Aalto, one of the founders of Artek. A sale of second-hand vintage furniture run by Fernandez & Wells, will be available to buy at twentytwentyone. From 19 – 23 September at The Old Sorting Office New Oxford Street.
Designersblock at the Southbank Centre has a selection of sustainable furniture and lighting, featuring UTREM LUX, Polliander, Joe Gibbs and numerous other great designers. From the 20-23 September at the Southbank Centre.