Friday 2 December 2016

'Man Engine' puppet to head off on global tour

Published 07/08/2016 | 14:26

The Man Engine was designed by puppet specialist Hal Sylvester
The Man Engine was designed by puppet specialist Hal Sylvester

The UK's largest ever mechanical puppet is planning a global tour after finishing a two-week journey across Devon and Cornwall.

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Cornish Mining Man Engine, a 10 metre-high puppet, was created to mark the 10th anniversary of Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape being added to the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites.

It has completed a 130-mile journey across the entire length of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site - from Tavistock in Devon to the Geevor Tin Mine at Pendeen in Cornwall.

The behemoth is a major feat of Cornish engineering and is the same height as a double-decker bus when in its 'crawling' mode.

When stood up it transforms to almost three times that height, weighing almost 40 tonnes with its accompanying vehicle.

It sports a number of 'motifs' of Cornish mining, with a giant beam engine as a rocking neck, mining 'head gear' sheave wheels as shoulders, cast iron flangers and rivets throughout and hands that reflect massive 20th-century excavators.

More than 150,000 people saw The Man Engine over the course of its 20 pre-planned stops in Devon and Cornwall.

Will Coleman, founder and director of Golden Tree Productions, said: "Everyone has toiled long and hard to embed into this single huge object, the meaning and feeling of the stories of the real people, and the real lives of those people, their sorrows, their achievements and their journeys, over thousands of years.

"It was a tall order, and a huge ambition from a seed of an idea inside my head, just a year ago, to bring not just the engineering feat of Man Engine together, but to work with great people up and down the length of Cornwall and West Devon, to create these show stopping events everywhere.

"I do feel now that, working with the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site team, and the Cornwall Council teams, that we have successfully honoured the achievements, the harshness, the beauty and the significance that the work, energy and brainpower that our mining ancestors brought to our entire world.

"And with the Man Engine as our motif, we've revitalised a new hunger for a new knowledge and a new understanding about the epic achievements of the Cornish right across the world again.

"The Man Engine has completed his first pilgrimage of 130 miles across his homeland.

"I think myself and my team deserve a quick holiday, but never fear, within a month we'll be laying the plans for the Man Engine to make his way to Mexico, to South Australia, to South Africa, and all of the areas of our globe to which Cornish miners set sail, taking with them the grit, ambition and skills that transformed the world as we know it."

The Man Engine was designed and overseen by puppet specialist Hal Sylvester, using a team of engineers, fabricators, welders, smoke and lighting experts and artists.

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