Tag Archives: Steampunk Art

Guest Post by Karen Carlisle

The Department of Curiosities: The Aussie Connection

Karen Carlisle

WARNING… Some SPOILERS Ahead.

I started writing The Department of Curiosities in 2013. The story was set in busy, 1883 London, with very English heroes and villains. London was an easy choice of setting; just about everyone has either been there, read about it or seen versions of it in movies or on television. Most readers have developed a mental picture of Victorian era London. It’s crowded, noisy, full of mystery and potential danger. I could tap into that picture.

Like I said, it was easy to set The Department of Curiosities in London.

Image supplied by Karen Carlisle

But there weren’t many steampunk stories set in Australia – and I really wanted to write one…

But Queen Victoria plays a significant part in the story, and she never came to Australia…

But I really wanted to write Australian characters. Perhaps I could set some of the story here in Australia?

At the time, I kept reading articles bemoaning the state of Australian fiction: ‘readers weren’t interested in reading books about Australia.’ This annoyed me. A lot. I’m an Aussie author and I wanted to write Australian stories.

That was 2013.

In 2018, I picked up my (almost completed) original manuscript for The Department of Curiosities. I had a few ideas and plot snags to add, but I was still happy with the main story. After setting my last book, Aunt Enid, in Adelaide, I was determined to make The Department of Curiosities a more Australian story. Perhaps if I started the first book in England, and then transported the characters to Australia…?

I did some research. (Did you know South Australia has many scientific, medical, political and inventive ‘world firsts’ in history?) and decided to make Adelaide the ‘world hub’ for mechanical research at the time. Everything fell into place – a steampunk adventure that would take our heroine half way across the world, and back again!

Though most of the action in The Department of Curiosities is set in London or countryside England, there are several connections to Australia. Firstly, there’s Tillie.

Matilda (Tillie) Meriwether was born in Australia and spent her young childhood in Adelaide with her father. We first discover this when the General (Director of The Department of Curiosities meets Tillie for the first time and mentions her (almost lack of) accent.

Imaged supplied by Karen Carlisle

“I was aware Meriwether’s niece was Australian; I expected a Colonial accent. How long have you resided in England, my dear?” [said the General]

“Fifteen years; since I was a young child.”

“Ah, that explains it.”

Tillie bit her lip. No one usually bothered to check on family in the Colonies. She wasn’t sure how curious the Department was, and how exhaustively they would search.

 

(Until this time, most of the story is told in Tillie’s POV, and she wouldn’t notice her accent, would she?)

As we move through the story, there are more hints of Australian accents and connections, including The Department of Curiosities itself! Various discoveries suggest Tillie will find answers to her father’s secrets in Australia. This leads our heroine and her companions on a voyage to the other side of the world to Adelaide, South Australia. Much of the second book in the series will be set here.

 

In my steampunk/alternative history world, the word ‘mechanicals’ is used to describe any technology such as gadgets, contraptions, steam powered machines, clockwork machines. The use and ownership of mechanicals is regulated by Royal decree as Queen Victoria feels it isn’t in the Empire’s interest for the population to have access to such potentially dangerous items.

When Tillie arrives in South Australia, she discovers South Australia is a ‘new world’, full of gadgets, mechanicals, and few restrictions on their use and ownership. It’s home to The Conceptualisation Co-operative – a sort of think tank for ideas and inventions – attracting inventors, engineers and creators from all over the world. (We’ll find out more about this in the next book.)

And of course, the photographic work for the cover, social media cards and book trailers are all shot in and around Adelaide, including historical buildings such as The Largs Pier Hotel, who let us roam around their halls for a day of filming.

Image supplied by Karen Carlisle

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Filed under Australian Author, Australian Steampunk Author, Karen Carlisle, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Feminist, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Uncategorized

Steampunk Gadgets – a video by yours truly

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The link takes you to a Youtube video, with Cogpunk Steamscribe (in her Steampunk Sunday persona) discussing the delightful gadgets of the Steampunk cosplayer.

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Filed under Celebrating 30 years of Steampunk, Gadgets, Steampunk, Steampunk Cosplay, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Sunday, Steampunk Technology, Steampunk Themes

Tomas Barcelo’s Steampunk Cannon

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Seriously, one of the best gadgets I’ve seen in a long time.

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Steampunk Art and the Steampunk Aesthetic: Part Two

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Art by Brian Kesinger

Samson the blue ringed octopus and his assistant, Jeremiah, for blue ring iron works.

I love illustrations, for books, for graphic novels, and for posters.One of my favourite artists is Brian Kesinger, the famed creator of Otto and Victoria from “Walking your Octopus”. Kesinger is an American illustrator, author and animator, who has worked for Disney. Many of his works have a Steampunk Aesthetic.He even paints with tea! His use of the Steampunk Aesthetic to tell a tale withing his illustrations reflects his deep understanding (and love) of the genre.

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Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girls, painted using tea.

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Otto and Victoria cosplaying as Doctor Who and a Dalek.

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The Inventor, by Brian Kesinger.

Edward Gorey is another artist who favours a Victorian flavour in his illustrations, but his tastes tend to be more Gothic. The late Edward  Gorey was an American writer and artist, famed for his illustrated books.

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Now, the aesthetics of Gothic Victorian and Steampunk are very closely related, and Gorey is a master of the dark arts. It is his eye for detail that makes his work resonate on so many levels. That, and he can be both macabre and whimsical within the same illustration.

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Illustration from The Willowdale Handcar

osbick-bird-by-edward-goreyNow, I can’t mention Steampunk illustrators without mentioning Liz Mamont. Like Gorey, Mamont blends a mixture of Gothic horror with a Victorian aesthetic. Like Gorey, her work often has a surreal edge. Her use of line work is superb, and she doesn’t back away from Absurdism in her work.

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The Mantis Family Outing Liz Mamont

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Electricity by Liz Mamont

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Art by Liz Mamont.

Unlike Steampunk sculptures, there is no expectation of ‘functionality’ in illustrations. Instead, what makes these illustrations fit into the Steampunk genre is their sense of humour – black or otherwise – and their sense of fun, while remain restricted to a a Victorian-era style and aesthetic.

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Steampunk Art and the Steampunk Aesthetic

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Puff the Steampunk Dragon by  Cassia Harries

What makes a piece of art fit into the Steampunk genre?

It isn’t a case of glue some gears onto something and calling it Steampunk, as parodied by Reginald Pikedevant. However, as a relatively new genre, the Steampunk Aesthetic is changing as new creatives are inspired by its quirkiness and historical relevance to our Postmodernistic culture.

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Michihiro Matsuoka

 

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Michihiro Matsuoka

 

Michihiro Matsuoka does ‘glue gears’ onto his resin animals in his sculptures. However, he also reuses old car parts and other discards in his work, and upcycling is right at the centre of Steampunk. I am a fan of his work, and if I ever get rich enough I will most definitely purchase some of his work to decorate my Steampunk Study. His sculptures have life and character as well as a Steampunk aesthetic, and the artist refers to them as his Steampunk Hybrids.

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Flying Machine 1 by Ernie Abdelnour

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Flying Machine 2 by Ernie Abdelnour

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Flying Machine 3 by Ernie Abdelnour

American artist Ernie Abdelmour also prefers to reuse found objects in his art. I adore his whimsical ‘Flying Machine’ series as they incorporate teapots, and tea is such a Steampunk tipple. He also has a fondest for recycling dials and gauges. Abdelmour prefers his ‘gadgets’ (his term) to look like they would work. He prefers creating machines to animals as animals have to be ‘more accurate’. All in all, his ‘it should look functional’ ambition is very Steampunk.

 

Cassia Harries like to make her little resin animals dress up in Steampunk cosplay, with goggles and gadgets. Her DarkSkies collection features all little animals that have wings and jetbacks, or helicopter blades, and look ready for anything. I was originally drawn to her work by ‘Puff, the Steampunk Dragon’.

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