Wallace and Gromit get a hand at home
WALLACE is the father of flawed invention and his dog, Gromit, always saves the day. Now the claymation pair, with all their British eccentricities, are getting a makeover in Sydney.
As the Wallace and Gromit exhibition prepares to open at the Powerhouse Museum this weekend, painters and installation workers add final touches to a life-size model of their home at 62 West Wallaby Street, which visitors can walk through.
In the front garden is a Victa lawnmower; number 5,000,000 made in Australia, according to the brass plaque. The curator of the exhibition, the Powerhouse's Debbie Rudder, wanted to acknowledge that Brits and Aussies share a ''self-deprecating, subtle'' humour but also a hunger for innovation.
Playing with scale ... claymation characters Gromit, left, and Wallace ham it up on a set at the Powerhouse Museum as exhibition curator Debbie Rudder reaches in. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Inside, in a showcase next to a monumental light tower - for Wallace-style ''light bulb'' moments - there is a Jot a Dot braille writer, a portable, mechanical device for sight-impaired people. Sold worldwide, the Jot a Dot was developed by Quantum Technology at Rydalmere in 2005, having begun as a student project almost 20 years earlier.
''We all like to think about quirky inventions and imagine ourselves maybe as inventors,'' Rudder says.
The exhibition is based on Nick Park's animated creations and has been shown in previous guises in London, Newcastle and Glasgow in Britain, then Melbourne, and now been tweaked again for Sydney fans.
''We can look at Wallace and say, 'Wow, he's a bit strange - he doesn't get it right, but it's fun', Rudder says. ''So to translate that into an exhibition has been a challenge. The exhibition plays with scale, because you walk into their house but inside the house are actual film sets that are puppet-size.''
Surrounding the glass cases of tiny clay Wallace and Gromits variously in their kitchen, lounge room and vegie garden are enlarged versions of Wallace's fabulously flawed inventions.
Consider the Read-O-Matic: rather than turn the pages of a book, Wallace would prefer to turn a wheel handle with several copies of the same book opened at different pages. This is perfectly logical for a man who wants to push the television button with a mechanical finger but first throws a ball at a target to make the TV come to him.
Merlin Crossingham, the creative director at Aardman Animations, producer of the Wallace and Gromit films, says the pair's humour is very British and it is vital the animators find it funny. ''We are in a way laughing at ourselves,'' Crossingham says. ''There are too many similarities between Wallace and us animated filmmakers for us not to.''
No new Wallace and Gromit films are in production but Crossingham promises ''there will be at some point''.
Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention opens on Saturday at the Powerhouse Museum.