John began making tin automata in 1997 following practical assistance from Lawson Marden Ltd., tin box manufacturers. His automata are craft based interpretations of the processes and procedures employed in the tin toy manufacturing industry. By combining primitive printing and forming with hand working, he creates three-dimensional objects evoking childhood memories and play.
The visual and tactile qualities of old tin toys, with their rich patina of dents and scratches, stylised forms and eccentric jerky movements created by their mechanisms, are the inspiration for his automata.
By printing on to and forming tin sheet John has taken the qualities of these old tin toys and created large and small scale automata of wit and whimsy, that connect the past with the present.
The hand made manufacturing process allows for the production of small ranges of customised unique objects, as well as the production of larger bespoke objects to commission. This has resulted in the creation of works for Cartmell Gatehouse, Shropshire County Council’s Valuing the Arts Scheme and most recently five automata based on the Hindu tale of Ramayana for Mythstories Museum.