Steampunk Objet d’art

Synergy Gallery presents “Alchemy” by Erno Berkovics Sanders an exhibition of beautiful, steampunk, sculptures/lamps. Based on the solar system the lamps include: Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Earth, the Sun and the Moon in solid bronze, copper and brass and 24 carat gold guitar strings.

Erno Berkovics Sanders, Earth, (image courtesy of Synergy Gallery)

Erno Berkovics Sanders, Earth, (image courtesy of Synergy Gallery)

The stands are made of old fire hoses, large solid polished bronze gears from pastry mixers and pistons from a tea bag making machine. Some of these object d’art have kinetic elements, rotating to create small lightshows, and all are electric and fantastic. The quality and beauty of the design, craftsmanship and materials in these Erno Berkovics Sanders’s alchemy is awe-inspiring. Alchemy is turning base matter into gold and that has clearly happened here.

Erno Berkovics Sanders migrated to Australia in 1956 from Budapest worked as builder for most of his life and this is the first exhibition from this “reclusive mature artist”. (Dare I call him an ‘outsider artist’? This ambiguous term has been abandoned in art-speak for almost a decade.) It is evident that Sanders did not waste his time as a builder obviously adding many skills and collecting much of the recycled, found and re-purposed materials in this exhibition.

Alchemy at Synergy Gallery

Alchemy at Synergy Gallery

Synergy at CERES, environmental park is a small works gallery in the Red Train. The 100-year-old red rattler carriage is a wonderful setting for this exhibition. The carriage has been refurbished with some of the sections of seats removed, track lighting installed but the old wood panels, mirrors and pressed tin ceilings have been preserved.

The old train carriage reminded me that there almost was a steampunk Melbourne. The cutting edge technology of brass tubes and cables of the steampunk world was here in “marvellous Melbourne”. There was a steampunk future for the city complete with the longest pneumatic power and communications system in the world. But it was a future that never was, due the Australian banking crisis of 1893 and the end of the gold mining boom.

Steampunk Melbourne would have been an odd kind of future city where there were telephones before there were sewers. And where parts of the public transport system was degraded before it was expanded. Melbourne could have had two rail loops, north and south of the Yarra, but they were both scrapped in favour of a spoked pattern radiating from the city. (I didn’t use public transport to get to Ceres; I am continuing to ride my bike to exhibitions. Melbourne’s poor public transport is damaging to its culture.)

About Mark Holsworth

Arts administrator, artist, musician, philosopher and writer. Writes Black Mark - Melbourne Art and Culture Critic. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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