The Iron Genie
8 July – 21 September 2014
We recently installed Anita Chowdry’s wonderful Iron Genie sculpture in our Top Gallery, the first time it has been on public display. The Iron Genie is inspired by the harmonograph, a 19th-century drawing device that created beautiful curves by combining the motions of pendulums. Anita’s piece is a kinetic installation and will be demonstrated regularly in the gallery, allowing visitors to create their own unique Lissajous curves.
Anita will also give free public talks about the piece at 3pm on Saturday 19 July, Saturday 16 August, and Saturday 20 September. The rest of the time the machine will be operated by Ella Raff, a graduate specializing in the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University.
Here Anita tells us a bit more about the creation of the Iron Genie and her exploration of the Museum:
“I have written quite extensively about the harmonograph and the processes that went into the design and fabrication of Iron Genie on my official website. From concept, it took some 18 months to create, with the input of four senior technicians at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, and a hefty weight of lovingly hand-crafted steel, brass and zinc.
“Having had a thorough polish over the previous weekend, this handsome beast now sits in glory in the company of one of the world’s finest collections of historic scientific instruments. I feel rather covetous of some of the drawing instruments, in particular this marvellous inlaid metal writing box with compasses and dividers:
“And I would love to get my hands on this machine for drawing curves and ellipses:
“Reminiscent of the blackened steel fabrication of the Iron Genie (inspired as it was by the ‘over-engineered’ mechanics and aesthetics of the Industrial Revolution) are the many massive workings of tower clocks displayed at the museum. Here is one below – and I can’t wait to start experimenting with some fancy gears for my next project!”