Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be – a mixture of science fiction, art, and imagination with a sense of the absurd.
Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital:
Steampunk – a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology; a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy—also in recent years a fashion and lifestyle movement—that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery; tomorrow as it used to be.
Oamaru Harbour is being rediscovered.
In its hey day in the late 1800s and early last century it was a bustling port.
Even 50 years ago, it still had regular visits from ships taking freight in and out.
The safe bay was also popular with families and it has stayed as a harbour for fishing and leisure boats.
But over the years the harbour closed to shipping and nature’s impact made the beach less hospitable.
Then the world discovered the little blue penguins which nest around the harbour and the town capitalised on the tourist potential.
Businesses followed – craftspeople, a restaurant, a cafe and over the last year or so a steampunk themed playground has been developed.
It’s being opened at 5:30 this evening.
‘Character’ according to the dictionary is the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way. With that definition in mind, we went in search of New Zealand towns with genuine character, towns with strong, distinct personalities. Here’s what we found…
Walk the cobbled streets of Oamaru’s heritage precinct outside school hours, and there’s a good chance of spotting the fugitive sky pirate, Sir Livin Hope, or a small girl carrying a case full of deadly ray guns.
These are characters who reside in the weird and wonderful world of Steampunk – an imagined Victorian future where electricity fizzled out and steam remained king.
Some call it science fiction, others an alternative history. It’s a style of dress, a form of art and, for a select few, a way of life. However it’s defined, one thing is certain: Steampunk is alive and well in Oamaru.
It all started two years ago, with a beer mug. . .
Stempunk is fascinating and fun, think art meets science mixed with history and fantasy.
It’s as small as a piece of jewellery or as large as a steam train which rewards those who feed it with $2 coins with a light and sound show:
Before we proceed any further, I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. Who or what the hell is Waitaki? More to the point – where is Waitaki, more like? To put it plainly and simply, the Waitaki Valley (a.k.a Waitaki) is a very small wine region out in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand. Or as Kiwis would say – “it’s out in the woop woops mate!” In fact, I passed through this remote and picturesque little piece of bush in 2004 during my road trip around the South Island. . .
Passing quickly over the phrase which is not woop wopps but wop wops and the quibble that there’s little if any bush left in the valley, his praise is welcome recognition of the valley’s growing wine industry.
The Waitaki Valley isn’t the easiest place in which to grow grapes, but the wine which results from those who persevere has a growing reputation for its quality.
. . . At the end of the day, as long as you marry the person you set out to marry, then your wedding was a success. . . from a post on a Victorian Steampunk wedding – with wonderful photos – at Ruffled.
Marry art with history and science, add a sense of humour and you’ve got steampunk, a celebration of tomorrow as it used to be.
If you prefer your exhibits on a bigger scale than those which fit in a gallery, the steampunk train is on permanent display outside Steampunk HQ and $2 in the slot will start the sound and light display.
We don’t usually need an excuse to go to Wanaka but this weekend we had three – a long weekend and two invitations to parties in neighbouring Arrowtown.
However, the weekend away, wonderful as it was, meant we missed one of the highlights on the North Otago calendar – the annual Steampunk ball and fashion show.
Steampunk, as defined by the Victorian League of Imagineers, is tomorrow as it used to be:
The “punk” in steampunk is a rebellion against the present day preference for plastic and the disposable way of life. For many it is a search for where society might have taken the wrong turn at the end of the Victorian era.
Over the last 30 years a subculture has built up where people around the world have created an alternative Victorian future. The future and it’s technologies have been taken back into the ornate and opulent world of grand fashion and gentlemanly manners, a future where there is a dark side of grime and the corruption of power that has to be overcome to create new and better world. It is also a world where women have an equal involvement in politics, adventure and social change. The opportunity is also taken to parody the developments of history as we know it.
It’s an amazing amalgamation of art, science, history, humour and imagination.
This year’s show attracted a school art class from Australia – 27 pupils from Shearwater, the Mullumbimby Steiner School, in northern New South Wales, came to Oamaru for a field trip.
Steampunk HQ is based in Oamaru’s historic precinct. If you missed out on this weekend’s celebrations there will be other opportunities to appreciate the steampunk sensation later in the year.
The Victorian League of Imagineers is planning to put together a steampunk XV for the Golden Oldies Rugby Festival which is taking place in oamaru from September 30 to October 2 as part of the World Cup celebrations.
Steampunk usually features in the annual Victorian Heritage celebrations which will be held from November 16 -20.
. . . we are also entertained and amazed by the talent and energy the North Otago community displays in the District’s annual Victorian heritage celebrations.
The programme includes live theatre, the national penny farthing championships a servants and swaggers dance for the downstairs folk, a ball for those upstairs and the annual fete a feature of which is the world stone sawing championships.
Join us in a journey to a distant place and time. A world styled with brass, copper and leather. A steam-powered world of blimps, balloons and coal smoke darkened skies, a magical, miraculous, mechanical world of cogs, levers, wheels clocks and glass gauges. A world that is full of mad and quirky technology. A place where Jules Verne and Monty Python might meet to share a port wine and smoke a pipe at home together . . .
I had a quick look round the gallery yesterday and will return for the long, lingering visit required to do justice to the exhibits.
Each year more people get in to the spirit of the celebrations by dressing in Victorian clothes.
If you’re anywhere near North Otago, the celebrations provide a very good reason to visit this weekend.
The Steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery has opened.
I haven’t been inside since having a sneak peek while the exhibitinw s being set up last week, but it’s impossible to miss this outside:
A street party to celebrate the exhibition is being held this evening.
Last year’s inaugural steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery was an outstanding success, this year’s promises to be even better.
On Wednesday, a large crane was involved in preparing for the installation of something big outside:
Inside, the first of the many exhibits were in place, including Dr Gattling’s Lunar Dismembulator which was photographed by the ODT.
The Victorian League of Imagineers are behind the exhibition, Tomorrow As It Used To Be which opens this morning. They’ll be celebrating with a street party next Saturday from 6.30 to 8pm.
Oamaru is New Zealand’s Steampunk capital but there are enclaves of similar creativity elsewhere.
When we were in Kununura in northern West Australia a couple of months ago we came across this Hardly Davidson.
It’s the work of New Zealand born artist, Al Mason, whom we came across painting a mural.
You can see more examples of his work at the Lovell Gallery.
Imagine a world were men are men, women are gorgeous and guns are shiny and desirable . . .a glimpse of the future as imagined by a late Victorian explorer and adventurer.
This explanation of the work of artist Greg Broadmore, from Weta Workshop, greets visitors to the Steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery.
Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be. The punk is a rebellion against the present day preference for plastic and the disposable way of life.
For many it is a search for where society might have gone had it taken the wrong turn at the end of the Victorian era, an alternative Victorian future.
The exhibition includes a selection of work from Broadmore’s fictional universe’ of Dr Grordbort’s exhibition which will be touring China later this year and works from other artists who are part of the Victorian League of imagineers.
Works include a time machine by Chris Meder; Teapot a young a very cheeky kakapo made almost entirely from parts from an old Welger bailer; Helen Jensen’s dirigible and Donna Demente’s St Lucy Tomorrow.
Outside the gallery is Dugal and Meg Armor’s portable marshmallow toaster:
Donald Patterson’s steam tractor:
The ODT has a photo of Ian Clark and his steam powered beer tankard which is also part of the exhibition.