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Everything you wanted to know about Steampunk
Russell Anderson, Tea bag jiggler 5, 1993-94. Found objects, clock parts and steel Photo: Rod Buchholz
It is nice to know the National Trust is moving with the times. Or at least kinda moving with the times.
Their latest exhibition is the Antipodean Steampunk Show which opens on the 30th of June at the National Trust of Victoria's headquarters at Tasma Terrace (a gorgeous old Victorian mansion with lots of charm, and endless wooden stairs.)
Steampunk is a bit of an "out there" movement which has spawned fashion, art and inventiveness. It began as a subgenre of speculative fiction but also Cyberpunk It is set in an anachronistic (which means out of chronological order) Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting.
As it usually involves a quasi-Victorian setting then Tasma Terrace is perfect for this as it was built in the 1870s.
The movement usually references Victorian times especially the rise of industrialism, technology and science.
Tasma Terrace (source National Trust)
Melbourne, of course, is one of the great Victorian cities of the world because most of our finest buildings were built then.
Or sometimes Steampunk is set in an alternative universe which has some of the characteristics of the 19th century.
As well as being a literary movement one can also see it in films such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Van Helsing.
Steampunk is also a style which involves cosplay (dressing up in costumes to take on characters) and is linked to the music scene.
It all about taking Victorian fashions and changing them so they are more self expressive. Girls for example often wear their corsets outside their dresses which would have been a complete no no in Victorian times. Or top hats are worn with brass goggles on them.
Image: Kate O'Brien, Hull, 2008.
The movement also explores advancement as moving faster and at a different direction than in reality. It is an elegant world of steam driven devices, cogs and pistons. It is all about inventions and creativity.
In some ways it is a youthful rebellion against the present with its fast pace, over consumption and daily surveillance. It is often described as "What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner." Or if "today's technology had been introduced in the 19th century, what would the world look like?"
It is a visually rich movement and all will be on show at the National Trust's exhibition.
The exhibition features the work of a number of creators including "engineer-sculptors, artist-scientists, shoe-makers, jeweller-taxidermists, writers, performers, photographers, film-makers, tinkerers, designers and hobbyists."
You can check out the shoes, time machines, fashions, ray guns, photography and music players all modified to reflect 19th century aesthetics.
Also on show will be books and films that inspired the Steampunk movement. The National Trust is adding their bit with lots of nautical, aeronautical, musical and navigational equipment, sourced from their collection.
This exhibition has been touring the country and you can find out more about what is in store for you in the video below.
If you want to involve your young adult in this genre here are some great reads. This was one of my favourites below.