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Steampunk Overtakes Oamuru

Steampunk Overtakes Oamuru

Huge things are happening in central Oamaru.

The ground outside the Forrester Art Gallery has been taken over by cranes and old railway sleepers in preparation for the League of Victorian Imagineers' October exhibition, “Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be” .

At the northern entrance to town an enormous copper cylinder visible from State Highway 1 announces Oamaru as the steampunk capital of New Zealand.

Meek's Elevator Building on the corner of Humber and Tyne streets, owned by local businessman Brian de Geest has long brandished a “Steampunk HQ” sign.

The 2010 “Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be” exhibition will open at the Forrester Gallery on Saturday, October 23.
Contributors are world class. They rival anything found at the English Oxford Exhibition Sept 2009.

On Saturday October 30 there will be a street party for as many in the Waitaki District and beyond as wish to come,and celebrate.

Following the success of last year's exhibition and the Steampunk Fashion Show and Gala Ball in June this year, League of Victorian Imagineers spokeswoman Helen 'La Falconesse' Jansen says the number of exhibitors and exhibits has burgeoned.

There are more than 100 exhibits from 40 different artists.

Local steampunk leader Iain Clark, aka Agent Darling, aka Iaia Clark, says what is so exciting is that so many of the contributions come from those who would not consider themselves as artists but have been inspired by the Victorian science fiction theme.

“They have come up with the most remarkable inventions – how about an alien promulgating transmogrifier? - time machines, ray guns, digital art, films, fashion, jewellery; and each has an accompanying story that sets it squarely in the remarkable world of steampunk.”

The punk era of the late 1970's and early 1980's gave rise to a group of science fiction authors who set their plots in the Victorian world.
“Steampunk” was coined to define their type of sci-fi.
It is set in a world where steam was the primary source of power: the atomic power of the age.
Everything was considered possible and expansion was the norm.
Empires were built, new areas of the world taken over and why not go into space?
But at what cost to society?

Significant influences were H.G. Wells and his time machine, Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Alan Moore's super heros in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

During the past 30 years a subculture has built up where people around the world have created an alternative Victorian future.

Here in Oamaru it complements the existing Victorian heritage theme and has been taken up enthusiastically by the local community.

With a twist of Kiwi No 8 wire it is inclusive of all ages and abilities; the community cannot get enough of it, as evidenced in Mr de Geest's commissioning of several vast pieces to display publicly in association with the exhibition.


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