Encore Cabaret Mechanical Theatre!

Visits to dad’s mum’s house on Horton Bank top in Bradford were greatly anticipated. It was the home of contradictions. We were to refer to Maud only as “Grandma” (definitely not Gran like mum’s mum) and she always had an endless supply of “Shloer” – a welcome change from tap water, or what mum creatively called “corporation pop”.

Grandma dined on prawn cocktails at Rackhams but the only food she “prepared” at home came out of a tin. Her garden was adorned with ornaments. While I could take or leave the crudely painted gnomes, one ornament caught my imagination…Standing high above the roof of the garage was a man turning the handle of a well in all his primary coloured plastic splendour. He was a slave to the wind – springing into action with the first gust and at times reaching back breaking velocity. This was my one and only introduction to automata…until now.

I’ve been cyber stalking the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre touring exhibition for some time. Eventually the stars aligned last Wednesday and the whole family ventured south of the river to the rather appropriately named “Wood Wharf” in Canary Wharf.
Crossing the platoon from Montgomery Street, this is the sight that greeted us. The forbidding 80 metre long Cold War relic, MS Stubnitz.

Descending down into the bowels of the ship was all part of the experience. The website http://ms.stubnitz.com/ promotes the ship as a “legendary arts and music venue” and I was seduced into thinking this would make a great vodka fuelled party venue.


After paying our admission of £5 per adult and £3.50 per child we walked through the corridor adorned with archive photos of the ship’s former fishing life towards the dimly lit hold.
Each illuminated cabinet confined a specimen to be prodded and poked into action. The kids were in heaven pressing buttons. No “Don’t Touch” signs here.
Much to the delight of my son Anubis featured heavily.
Paul Spooner’s Spaghetti Eater relentlessly twirled his pasta as tomato sauce and parmesan issues from the taps
You can’t fail to admire the craftsmanship of each piece, or maybe be inspired to make one of your own. Word to the wise – You’ll need to hurry if you want to catch this dream of an exhibition as it closes on 12th April and the Stubniz sets sail in May.20130403_121351

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About Rachel

Welcome to my blog! I'm a freelance features writer, seasoned researcher and mum of two. I love to write. My inspiration comes from peoples' stories, everyday observations, cultural encounters, all things vintage and smart wordsmithery! This is my outlet to share work, bounce around ideas and, on occasion, beat the block.

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