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Blog: Human Machines

Human Machines is an intriguing exhibition from sculptors Johnny White and Amanda Wray.

Here’s Amanda and Johnny on the inspiration behind the exhibition, and why you don’t want to miss it.


Johnny and I were wondering what theme we would really like to work collaboratively on.   

I was just in the process of finishing an Art Psychotherapy MA and thinking about thinking’, and Johnny enjoys making all the mechanics – it just made sense to make Human Machines 

In 23 years of collaborating with Johnny on a variety of projects, this is the first time we have been given the opportunity to make a whole new body of work together for an exhibition.  

The machine and kinetic element often seems to give an extra life force to the artworks.  

So for example, The Gaze seems to be much more relational than if two still sculptures were sat next to each other because both characters look around, then settle their eyes on each other. They really interact together as well as with the audience.   

Two large sculptures of heads staring at one another.

The Gaze – Copyright Chris Webb Photography

Being able to really play Mid-Life Crisis Bagatelle brings a lot of humour to a subject many people feel sensitive about, even though we all experience these similar things.   

I also like the humour of jerky movements – like Death wiggling his scythe, or the stroppy child stamping her feet, or the sketchy animation and drawings in The Gaze.  

Mid-Life Crisis Bagatelle – Copyright Chris Webb Photography

But reallyseeing it all together is what I enjoy most.  

There is something that everyone will be able to connect with, and it would be interesting to find out which piece actually has the most appeal.   

I think because you can play with the sculptures, or press a button to activate them, it makes it more fun and easier to interact with and feel a part of.   

Though I can also imagine the themes giving food for thought and further discussion, perhaps in the car on the way home or sat with the family during dinner. 

You don’t need to think you like art to enjoy this show.  It is playful and fun, but has a deeper more thoughtful side – just like a human that is good to be with. 


The aim of the exhibition was to focus on certain aspects of the human condition – things which are just everywhere and everyday, and try and make sculptures based on them. 

Rather than just robots, it was sculptures we wanted to base them on too. 

I particularly like the look of Hypnic Jerk because it looks so mad. With its eight legs and human feet at the bottom, it looks like it’s about to run away! 

Hypnic Jerk – Copyright Chris Webb Photography

Time of My Life is also absolutely fantastic because it’s the most complicated thing we’ve ever made. There’re so many bits to it.  

There are six little boxes, each of which is a little automata, and the alarm clock will revolve from one box to another when you press a button. 

Each box has a scene from your life, so you start at birth and end up at death. 

That said, I like all the pieces in the exhibition for different reasons.

Mid-Life Crisis Bagatelle you could just spend hours trying to get whatever stage in life you want.

To create the slope to make the ball roll within quite narrow layers was quite a challenge!

The exhibition has a very interactive nature to it. There are pieces where you can press buttons, or do things and something happens, so it gives people lots to do rather than just look at it.

The combination of that with Amanda’s amazing figurative modelling means it’ll have some kind of interest for everyone.

Human Machines is on display at The Point’s Gallery until 30 November. Entry to the exhibition is free. 

Human Machines is a touring exhibition from 20-21 Visual Arts Centre

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