From Airfix to Aardman Animation, Great Yarmouth exhibition asks why we love making models
12:37 27 March 2014
From Airfix planes to Hornby trains, we have a long-running relationship with models.
Small, to scale, and often stunningly detailed, they are used in everything from architecture to blockbuster movies.
And, as a new exhibition at the Time and Time Museum at Great Yarmouth proves, they have a curious way of enticing us in.
“There’s something geek chic about them,” said Johanna O’Donoghue, curator of Super Models: Some Assembly Required.
“You talk about models and people will think Airfix and doll houses. Hopefully this exhibition will challenge some of the ideas we have about models and also take a look at why we love to make them.”
Artefacts brought to Norfolk for the exhibition include wooden set pieces and handmade characters from the Aardman Animation films Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, as well as a 47-year-old triceratops that starred alongside Raquel Welch in the 1966 movie One Million Years BC.
The dinosaur model, made of latex over a metal skeleton, was made and brought to life by British animator Ray Harryhausen.
His stop-motion model technique known as Dynamation, also used in Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans, has inspired countless filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, who said Star Wars would not have happened without it.
While Time and Tide is already home to hundreds of model ships – there is a scale model of HMS Yarmouth and almost 200 miniatures of ships which really did sail in and out of the town – Miss O’Donoghue said the exhibition started with one in particular.
The bone ship, an accurate depiction of a man of war, was made from bone by a French prisoner during the Napoleonic Wars, dated 1793-1815.
It was the story behind the model and the beauty of the craftsmanship that led her to dig further into what made modellers tick.
“It is so beautiful and stunningly detailed,” she said.
“We have models on permanent display here and it got me thinking about what other models we could show.
“There’s definitely a crossover between models and artwork. You rarely see such incredible attention to detail or dedication. The model of the Gallopers was built using the original plans of Frederick Savage.
“It took one man 30 years to build and the horse tails are made from real hair taken from his family members.”
Mr Savage, an engineer born in Hevingham, played a leading role in developing galloper carousels, which are now a mainstay of fairgrounds around the world.
No model display would be complete without trains, planes and automobiles, all of which are on show at the Time and Tide – including a 1950 model of a Victor Bomber on loan from the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum in Flixton.
The wind-tunnel model was made to test the airflow over the distinctive wing design of the plane, something that would be carried out using computer programming today.
But if the Bomber model is from the past, a model of Yarmouth’s Vauxhall Bridge made by local students using a 3D printer is bang up to date.
Other highlights include a painstakingly put together matchstick windmill and a miniature rural scene from Yarmouth’s Merrivale Model Village.
The exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until November 2.
For opening times and ticket prices call 01493 743930 or visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk
Have you got an interesting collection of models? Ring Lauren Rogers on 01493 847958.