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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Steam Engines - Paddle Boats - The Enterprise


 Sitting at the little dock on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia, is the charming steam powered paddle boat The Enterprise, one of the oldest working paddle steamers in the world.
Unfortunately, she isn't licensed to carry paying passengers, so the only trips are with crew.

What a pity! When I visited I had to just imagine what it would be like to travel on this beautifully restored vessel maintained by volunteers.

 The Enterprise during her restoration, after working the Murray River at Echuca.












As with all things steam powered, I am fascinated and awed by their power and the complexity of Victorian mechanics. It's a testament to their cast iron construction that they are still in use to this day. Look at all those beautiful brass levers and wheels and knobs and gauges!












 You can find out more about The Enterprise here













It's little wonder that Steam Punk has embraced this period of history and imbues with a modern 'punk' twist. How awesome is this bike? It's art and history and fantasy combined.
 Even modern basics such as USB drives and the computer mouse have been punked-up to look like classic steam powered gadgets from a bygone era!









 I love the nod to Art periods such as The Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau which explored pride in craftsmanship, beautiful form based on nature and practical function.

 Something in the human psyche is drawn to beauty, detail and craftsmanship that lasts for centuries.

One of William Morris' designs, the founding father of The Arts and Crafts movement and its derivative movement - Art Nouveau.
 And, of course, I couldn't ignore these little guys : retro-Victorian robots!
Who'd have thought darleks, bow ties, Iron Maiden, penny farthings, corsets, goggles, brass gadgetry, airships, automatons, rusty WWII tanks, time travel, Jules Verne, Victorian architecture, brass and copper, modified pistols and cowboys in spaceships could ever go together! There's an element of danger in leather, lace and pistols, brass, steam power and wood.
We're looking for something in this nostalgic fusion of culture and history, of Empire, of splendor, of handcrafted ingenious beauty; something time-worn, enduring, that predates and outlives the plastic computer age in which we live.


The best websites I've seen so far are The Steam Punk Empire and Gallery of Psuedo-Victorian Steampunkesque and Retro-Victorian Art
Enjoy the pics!

cheers, Dawn

2 comments:

  1. You are such a mechanical peep. I love it. I am going to try harder to see beauty in this stuff. Thanks for opening my eyes to it Dawn.

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  2. Machinery can be beautiful artwork in its own right, can't it? Pride in workmanship is almost a thing of the past, but plenty of people are seeing the benefits to the human psyche, collectively and socially, of constructing beautifully designed, practical machines which last way beyond their make's lifetime. You'll be donning overalls and getting into diesel grease next!

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