Strandbeest

Internationally renowned Dutch artist and engineer Theo Jansen has a new exhibition of his strandbeest sculptures.

Internationally renowned Dutch artist and engineer Theo Jansen has been working in the field of kinetic art for the last 20 years, and has developed a series of mechanical, walking, skeletal-like creatures he calls ‘strandbeests’ (beach animals), which are designed to be powered by the wind.

The strandbeests are engineered from recycled scrap (predominantly plastic electrical tubing and 2-litre water bottles) and have no metallic or electronic parts. They can store energy generated from the pumping action of wind-driven sails. These compress air into reservoirs of recycled soft drinks bottles, described by Theo as ‘stomachs’, and the energy is released via piston mechanisms, which are used to power the device.

During the period of the exhibition, Theo will give exclusive live demonstrations of the new strandbeest, ‘Ventosa Siamesis’. One of the artist’s largest works to date at 10m long and 4.5m high, it takes the form of a Siamese twin structure where the two strandbeests work together, holding onto each other to prevent it from being blown over.

Live demonstrations of the strandbeest walking:

25-27 June: Exmouth beach, 11am-5pm. Under the guidance of the artist, the new strandbeest will explore its natural environment on the sand.

2-4 July: Princesshay Square, Exeter, 11am-5pm. This demonstration will coincide with Exeter’s Summer Festival.

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The exhibition at Spacex (15 May – 3 July) will feature elements of previous strandbeests, artefacts that Theo Jansen describes as ‘fossils’, which will give a detailed insight into his working methods and its evolution, along with some of his working drawings. www.spacex.org.uk

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