One of the exhibits that stood out must to me amongst all the treasures currently on display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery was ‘The Featherstone Kite Flying Machine’ by Rowland Emett. It’s a piece of machinery that you turn on by waving your arm over the sensor, which is an aspect I like about it because it made you feel part of the machinery as without you waving, it wouldn’t work.
However, most of all, it reminded me of my childhood. It’s like one of your wildest dreams come to life, with a cheese grater made into a robot, pretty lamp shades used as lights to guide this flying bike and a teacup swirling round underneath a pink parasol and flowers, accompanied by the sound of an old merry-go-round. But I also couldn’t help but interpret it as a twist on Salvador Dali’s painting ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’, like a more homemade version of the long-legged animals holding up beautiful golden carriage-like buildings.
Rowland Emett’s creation made me fall in love with museums all over again, and reminded me why I’m so fond of Brighton Museum because no matter how many times you may see an item at the Museum, it makes me so happy to know that it was once a little piece of someone’s life, a piece that we get to see. From different clothes from over the years, to an Ancient Egyptian mummified girl, they are all remembered. You don’t need to do something huge, or become famous, it’s just adding a little something different to our generation. And I think Rowland Emett captures this feeling perfectly in his machine. It’s not made for a specific purpose, just for us to admire and to bring our imaginations to life and to hopefully encourage others to do something they love.
As you turn to walk out from the South Balcony where it’s on display, look back at the smiling wooden gentleman propped up on his bike, wishing us good luck with a shiny horse shoe, and think about how it makes you feel. Emett may have not meant for these feelings to come out of his machine, but I think this creation offers more than what the eye sees at first glance. And for all these reasons, that’s why ‘The Featherstone Kite Flying Machine’, stood out most to me.
Frances Crespin, work placement at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery