I was recently in New Zealand on vacation with my wife and whilst there managed to see and do a lot of cool stuff. If you're interested you can search the #aussies-newzealand tag and see a day-by-day post-account of the vacation.
Of course, whilst on vacation one doesn't want to blog all damned day so I've still got many things to write about.
This image shows me "Steampunking". I almost bought these glasses but decided to stick with my trusty Oakley's.
We were in Dunedin, on New Zealand's South Island, and had decided to head north to the Moeraki Boulders (which you can read about and see by checking the above tag). We were chatting with some people in a pub the night before, as usually happens in pubs, and it was suggested that we go to a place called Oamaru, a little further north than the boulders some 120km north of Dunedin. It's has a Victorian precinct, the old Victorian-era town, complete with the buildings all still intact. It sounded legit so we added it into the day-trip - But we were in for a surprise.
Oamaru is a nice little farming-oriented town of about 14,000 people situated right on the ocean and has much to offer including the Victorian buildings, all now housing galleries, museums and shops stocking all manner of eclectic things both old and new. It's very cool. There's a nice little bay dotted with sail boats, cafés and parks and a simple, wholesome, feel to it. We were there on a perfect-weather day and set off to explore, which is when we came across Steampunk HQ.
After an extended-wander around the Victorian precinct we headed over to Steampunk HQ and right from the out-set thought its placement in the precinct seemed a perfect setting for the "alternative version of 19th century England."
The entrance to the Steampunk HQ building, Oamaru, NZ.
What the hell is Steampunk? Text below quoted from Wikipedia:
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American "Wild West", in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and neo-Victorian are different in that the neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology while technology is a key aspect of steampunk.
Learn more about Steampunk here after you have finished my post!
The HQ is located within and around the old grain elevator building built in 1883, right at the edge of the Victorian Precinct, and was founded in 2011 by three passionate Steampunk-advocates. The collection is presented to the public in an incredibly creative way, is interesting, odd-ball, ingenious and worth of every cent of the $10 entry-fee.
Steampunk HQ is all about recycling, sustainability and up-cycling various bits and pieces into works of art and curious displays leaving one wondering what it's all about however it's clear that it's all about whatever each observer feels it to mean - We're all different so it will mean different things to each of us! The collection features retro-futuristic sci-fi art, sculpture, movies and sound - It's an audio-visual extravaganza and is delectably, deliciously strange!
(Above) you can see a Steampunk creation, and Faith standing right at the top. I think that's one of the cool things with the HQ, some of the displays are interactive and they don't mind people getting involved, climbing on them and stuff. As you can see, some of the creations are immense.
Much of the artwork featured is by Chris Meder (1971-2010). Chris majored in sculpture and photography and found work within the film industry, working on films like King Kong, Lord of the Rings trilogy and Perfect Strangers, where he applied his mad-genius and particular style to good effect. Around 2007 he began to develop such sculptures as Express the steam train the iconic Bosca and the Chopper Holland and was in demand as a creator - Never short of work.
Sadly Chris Meder succumbed to cancer on the 17th July 2010, only 10 days after the birth of his daughter Olive. He was 39 years old. He leaves behind his artwork for us to marvel at though and as an insight into the man himself. A quote from Chris follows:
"I believe (like I suspect a lot of artists do) creating is about being connected with a direction, a bit of a plan. For me this involves old worn-out, broken-down machines combined with good recycled energy and vibes. I reconstruct history and age old texture into new forms. By concentrating on expression and posture I try to make my creations react to the viewer. Most of my satisfaction comes from the way people react to my work." - Chris Meder.
A Steampunk fish - It's doubtful you'd want to meet one of these in it's natural environment. This fish was about as long as I am tall and odd bits and pieces of discarded machinery have been welded together to create it.
This steampunk "train" has been made out of parts from all sorts of machinery - I can recognise a few parts like the cut-down bumper bars that form the carriages - The tail lights are still visible - I think they are from a Holden Kingswood circa 1974-75 or so.
It's difficult to showcase the pieces - Photos just can't do them justice I suppose; The detail in some of the pieces is amazing as is the way they have been constructed - I found myself wondering at the creative-mind that saw these creations whilst looking at the part part within it's original machine.
We spent almost two hours in Steampunk HQ and could easily have spent another hour at least, if time permitted. There's so much detail, so many things to take in as each display has brought together many elements into the one thing. A good example of this is the laboratory pictured below. I was in there for 30 minutes investigating the thousands of elements that have been combined. Fascinating.
(Below) Here's Faith on the Chopper Holland, a ratrod-chopper which has been mainly made out of parts from an old Nuffield tractor, Massey Harris boiler and other parts from worn-out machinery. I think it's a little big for her to handle, but who am I to burst her bubble? I used this excitement as a little leverage on her for me to purchase a new motorcycle - I'll keep you posted on how that went.
I had to grab a shot of the road signs out the front of the HQ. They take their Steampunk very seriously in Oamaru and everywhere one goes eclectic and odd bits and pieces can be found, and therefore there's loads of Steampunk's around the place. It wouldn't do to have any Steampunk's run over at the crossing, hence the signs. COOL!
To be honest I had zero idea that the Steampunk HQ existed prior to getting to Oamaru - We were there to see the Victorian precinct and coming across the HQ was a happy accident, although it's difficult to miss once you're in the town I suppose.
Steampunk creations are everywhere to be found with so many examples in movies, video games, music videos and, of course, in businesses, galleries and displays all over the world; There's even a Steampunk Festival right here in little-old Adelaide. The chances are that you've seen Steampunk in some format or other and not even recognised it and, of course, it doesn't appeal to everyone either I guess. It's interesting though and I like the idea of turning something old into something new(ish). To be completely honest I think I could totally become a Steampunk and live in a Steampunk world. How cool!
Steampunk, Oamaru in New Zealand is a very interesting place to visit, as is Oamaru in general, and if you ever make it to the area make sure you leave some time to stop by. You won't be disappointed.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default