I have just returned from the first 'Salon' exhibition of modern
automata makers, held by Monsieur Marcu at his Museum of Automates
in the Champagne region of France.
The 3-day event brought together more than a dozen makers from
France, Germany, Switzerland and ourselves from the U.K.
Greeting the thousands of visitors was a marvellous large Gavioli
organ, in the gardens outside the large hall, adjoining the museum
which contained the various displays.
The automata exhibited ranged from small inexpensive bisque headed
moving dolls through marvellously complex clockwork automated tableaux
and life size figures, to high tech computer controlled installations
of raw hydraulic power, tamed to come crashing down within inches of
The artistic and sculptural qualities embodied by many of the exhibits
was a powerful aspect of the 'Salon', particularly in the robots of
Letrun and the crazy special effects world of Trinquier.
Sheer mastery of the clockwork mechanism was evident in the acrobats
and bird trainers of Walter Dahler, whilst a small version of Decamps
Mask Seller, using a set of original small masks, made by Decamps but
never realised as a complete automaton, was exhibited by Clepsydra.
Our own Debut de Siecle (MoonMan) also attracted pleasing press and
The event was hosted with great humour and energy by the irrepressible
Marcu who made sure that the champagne flowed in accompaniment to the
fine French cuisine.
Hopefully an annual event, this 'Salon' is a vital source of
inspiration, information and wonder for all those who love automata.