Martine Rolls: Idea works up head of steam

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If there's one type of party that my mates and I like to go to, it's a dress-up party.

The last one we went to, not counting kids parties, was Kevin Major's bad taste party held in October 2011.

Kevin was known as Tauranga's outrageous funny man, and at the time he had just a few more months to live.

Instead of sulking about dying, Kevin threw a huge party. He died from cancer 11 days after his 50th birthday on July 15 last year, and had a fantastic send-off.

On Friday, my friends and I will be attending another dress-up party. This time, there is no one dying, but the concept is weird and wonderful all the same.

We will be donning some retro futuristic costumes and heading out to Lightwave Gallery on Totara St for the launch party of The Dark Side of the Mount.

Local artist Rob Murdoch approached Lightwave Gallery to exhibit his art with a view to having a solo exhibition.

His work covers the general "diesel punk" part of the fast growing "steam and enjin punk" movements that cover the Victorian and later years science fiction novels, the days when authors could only dream of ray guns, rockets and time travel.

The launch of the show is Friday night, so for the past two weeks I've been trying to build a collection of bits of copper, brass, old clocks and whatever else I could find that would fit a steam punk theme.

Google gave me plenty of ideas for what to wear and because the girls and I are time - and cash - deprived, it was good to find out that all you really need to put a steam punk outfit together is some old stuff, new stuff, and a wild imagination.

If you don't know what steam punk is, then here is Wikipedia's explanation: "steam punk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialised Western civilisation during the 19th century."

Therefore, steam punk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.

Diesel punk is similar, but based on the aesthetics of the interwar period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II.

Now back to the story, as it is confusing enough.

Through initial meetings with Rob, Ken Wright, director of Lightwave, realised that to give provenance to Rob's collection of ray guns and other worldly things, there needed to be a concept, a story, something to make the exhibition more than simply a collection of works hanging on the wall. There needed to be some form of experience.

For that reason, the gallery decided that they would publish a series of short journals that gave the background story to Cpt Rob. You can find them online.

To give you an idea, Rob is sole heir to the Murdoch industry's empire, purveyors of fine ray guns for the solar traveller since last Thursday tea time, famed Sky Bullet commander from Saturn's Moon campaign.

Does this sound like someone had a bit too much of those herbal smokes to you?

Wrong! It's actually a very cool and creative concept.

A League of Extraordinary Artists has been invited to also participate, including Simone Anderson, Nick Eggleston, Nic Clegg, Graeme Thompson, Ashley Grant, Ken Wright, and Clive Armstrong.

I have a feeling that this launch party is going to be something very special.

The Bay hasn't seen anything like it before. The whole thing has certainly tickled my imagination.

To find out more about it, see or check out their page on Facebook. 

And if you are now as intrigued as I am, then grab your goggles, binoculars and find yourself a hat.

See if you can find a futuristic looking toy gun somewhere and dust off your vest or corset, then rummage through the tool shed for some other fitting bits and pieces, and join us for a night of futuristic retro art.

The art works are for sale, of course, but you can count on an extraordinary experience. Plus you'll have the opportunity to chat to the artists involved and, if you like, to say hello to me.

See you there!

- Bay of Plenty Times

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