The Medway Fun Palace took place on the 3rd of October at Nucleus Arts in Chatham. After a lot of thought about what I might be able to contribute, I decided that with the impending Back To The Future II date in mind ( 21st of October 2015) I would create a Time Machine.
You see the problem already don’t you? For many weeks I was not quite sure how this was going to work. But I knew I would need a lot of boxes, due to the lack of a flux capacitor. In one of the Fun Palace meetings we spoke about lighting, a smoke machine, audio…within some type of large card box!
Then one day, as I walked past a local greengrocers, I discovered tomato boxes. They are strong and they stack, and I have hot glue! What more could I need? Ah yes a helping hand!
Queue some workshops! Thank you to Stephen Bartholomew and family, Laura Fisher and family, Debbie Crow and Ben Boardman for supporting this crazy idea. Also Nucleus Arts for supporting the Time Machine project by providing space!
I soon realised that there was something missing as the machine started to take shape. It was lacking some comedy based around the fact the machine was made of tomato boxes. Then I realised, here was a strong connection to the absolutely incredible Dismaland, which I had been to within the first 3 days of opening may I add because…I am impatient. I started to plan how I could include an edge of Dismal to the experience for those who hadn’t made it to the real thing. I was so pleased when Esther agreed to be my fellow miserable colleague, to open the Time Machine to visitors.
The machine took around 10 hours to finish, there was (did I mention?) tomato boxes, packing tape, gaffa tape and a lot of hot glue holding the machine together! We probably used around 100 small sticks of hot glue!
Once the ceiling had been secured, which mainly meant flat cardboard being securely taped to the box walls, the machine was surprisingly strong! This really is a great way to build an art installation.
We covered the inside of the machine with VHS tapes and weird vintage photographs, one was of a woman, Florence Priscilla, on an electric scooter in 1916.
I just had to make some finishing touches on the Saturday morning, get the fog machine going, and most importantly play the Power Of Love by Huey Lewis & The News and the Back To The Future Theme on a loop (I didn’t once get sick of it!).
Someone brought their own mini installation of vicious, dangerous My Little Pony models, which were displayed to a backing track of “Only The Horses” By Scissor Sisters.
As our willing tourists came in they were handed an old Nokia mobile and given instructions to have a good time, but not too much of a good time. They walked through the machine to then be “greeted” by my assistant who told them there was a range of activities including climbing through a box, that went to no where, or taking a photo in the selfie hole.
She explained though whatever they chose not to tell her as she didn’t really care. Anyone who touched the My Little Pony models were firmly told to not touch them as they were wild savage beasts.
They then got a text saying ” Now Get Out”.
Now I can’t really explain why…but we have over 100 people come through the Time Machine, some people even came back a second time. So that makes this my most successful exhibition yet. I didn’t have to smile once, which was great as I was ill. Unfortunately I couldn’t help but laugh quite a few times due to my assistants amazing improvisation, which at one point consisted of her telling visitors what happened to the last person that touched the ponies. She also told people to keep moving through the machine otherwise there won’t be a future for them to go to.
It really was a great day, we confused a lot of people, one lady left before she even went in (see, ‘actual’ time travel) one child cried. Definitely a success.
By Natasha Steer
On October the 3rd and 4th 2015 Fun Palaces took place across the UK. Fun Palaces are about creating and making together: they are a space where arts and sciences, fun and learning meet, working alongside and working together. See www.funpalaces.co.uk for more information.