The Scramble for Africa was a period during the 19th and early 20th centuries wherein various European powers undertook the exploration and subsequent colonization and subjugation of the continent. Africa still struggles to this day with the effects of imperialism, and is, by far, the world’s poorest continent. If you don’t know a lot about the Scramble for Africa, do consider taking a look at this article to give you a basic understanding. It’s things like this that make me glad I’m a Steampunk and not a Neo-Victorian; a lot of this should be downright repulsive to the modern reader.
While European colonialists were running rough-shod over the people and resources of Africa, others were busy plowing through Africa’s fauna. The notion of the safari, back in those days, was for people to hunt game, and even selected a Big Five game list for no other purpose than to bring back skins and heads of their kills as trophies to hang on the walls of their homes.
Fortunately, at least in the respect to the safari, times have changed. You can’t go shooting lions and rhinoceros at your whim nowadays, and the whole animal heads on the wall is definitely not as overwhelming popular as it was back then.
But say you want something like that on your wall, but you’re the gentle sort who doesn’t like the notion of shooting an animal. You may like this Steampunk inspired art by Nemo Gould:
Behold the elusive Acoustapus that was created by Nemo Gould using naught but an acoustic guitar, rocking chair parts, chair arms, salad bowl, beads, light fixtures, brass screws, aluminum. No animals were harmed in the making of this piece of art!
If you fancy the Acoustapus, check out this one entitled Waste Deep:
Also very cool.
Nemo Gould makes all sorts of awesome retrofuturistic sculptures from found materials. You should totally check out his website to see more fantastic artwork.
Pierre Matter is a French artist who creates stunningly elaborate Steampunk sculpture that blends the natural and industrial into something of beauty. Here’s some of his works:
Recently, Mr. Matter did a number of interviews that better explains how and why he creates what he does better than I could. Here’s the first one:
Magic Matter: An interview with the French sculptor Pierre Matter is an interview conducted by Silvia-Alexandra Zaharia & Adrian Ioniţă. It’s available to read in English, French, and Romanian. The interview is nine pages of questions, answers, and photographs and does a wonderful job of illuminating the work Mr. Matter does. Go check it out!
After you’ve read up on Mr. Matter, make sure to visit his website to explore his virtual museum, stay up to date on news, and peruse his shop for a new piece or print to add to your collection.
NDI Gallery is an online gallery of the very best in the world of recycled material as art and aims to promote public awareness of recycled assemblage art. There’s a lot of impressive artwork here all created from the recycling ethic that many Steampunks value, but one artist’s work within NDI is of particular interest to Steampunks everywhere: Andrew Chase.
According to his bio on NDI:
Andrew is a self-employed commercial photographer, furniture maker, welder as well as a highly talented assemblage artist. His breathtaking collection of mechanical animals was created using an assortment of recycled automobile and plumbing parts. Each fully articulated animal takes between 80 and 120 hours to complete.
These mechanical animals are nothing short of impressive. Here’s one of an elephant:
And here’s a cheetah:
There’s an entire menagerie of animals in Andrew Chase’s collection. You can see many of them at his website here.
The Steampunk aesthetic never ceased to amaze me. Just when I think I’ve seen just about everything, I find some new conception of the form that is visually stunning and totally unique. Like this:
Artist Lisa Black has a full line of “fixed” animals that have been modified to give them a more mechanized appearance. It reminds me of Mike Libby’s work with the insects I covered last month. Ms. Black, however, seems to have a preference (although not an exclusive preference) for vertebrates, and my goodness, her talent is apparent.
You can check out more of her work on her site. Be careful if you are squeamish, though. There’s one photo of a modified organ which is not for the faint of heart.