Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Steampunk Time Travel Art Installation at Truth Coffee

May I suggest you get comfortable and have a mug of coffee on hand before you delve into this photo heavy post...  you could be here a while...

Above is the final art installation piece (3.6m x 1.8m) with airship and below is the beginning of its story which started in June of 2014 when I created this canvas below about Tim Holtz and Truth Coffee...
I posted this little canvas on Twitter and the owners of Truth Coffee went mad for it... I took it in to them and they asked if I did commissions... the answer was YES and so over the next 19 months I have been purchasing stuff and creating even more things for this enormous task.

Here you can see the giant 1.3m clock and the various items I have Steampunked using loads of Tim Holtz's products. 
This was the beginning of the banner saying "beware of Airship Pirates in this vicinity"
After a while I had quite an eclectic pile of things growing on my dining room table...  The pvc gutter piping was sprayed copper and had rivets glued on.
I cut giant cogs out of foam core bord and sprayed everything silver.
Three weeks ago I had 3 large Masonite boards cut to 1.2m x 1.8m and base coated them with a beige PVA and set out all the items I had made so far.  I then decided the cogs needed to be copper...
Having decided where it was all going and having marked it out, I set about gluing the half orbs down.
When the glue was dry, I started painting the boards with artists acrylics.
At this stage, they were all on my tables in my studio, but this was hard to see the overall effect when I added all the cogs and other 3D items, so I dropped it down onto the floor.
 Here you can see me giving the whole thing a glaze of burnt umber to warm it up a bit.
This is the layout I finally decided on, but everything was still too shiny and new, so I set about aging it all.
 from this... to this...
To be able to visualize everything properly, I had to take the boards to my house... this involved getting a friend with a VW caravel to transport it for me for which I was most grateful.
This is the artwork together with the airship (how I made that is here) in my garage.
 I then deliberated between the hands on the clock or swapping them with the swards on the scroll... see above and below...
Eventually this option won!
 Seeing as Tim Holtz is known for technique tags and he was part the reason I got this commission in the first place... I used a shipping tag for my name!
The airship about to take her maiden voyage of 22km to Truth's HQ at 36 Buitenkant Street.
Where she took up temporary residence under the coffee beans...
 The van did not have space for the giant clock as well as the artwork and airship, so I had tied it to the roof of my car!
 Then the 4 hour job of installing it all began... I give you... The blank wall...
To install this project I had help from Nathan and Patrick from Truth and here you can see my hubby helping Nathan who is drilling the holes in the boards while still on the floor.
 I was an assistant too, passing up the necessary bolts etc... 
 Here are the boards before we stared adding the 3D stuff.
 Then we added all the items piece by piece
 Until it was just the decor items that had to go on suitcases which are floating shelves.
 and finally put up the airship
My ecstatic face in front of my artwork 
 I have truly left my mark!
In this shot you can see the dress form on the far right which was placed here in July 2014 in anticipation of her backdrop arriving!

Above is the before shot and below is the after shot!
I would like to thank David, Richard and Andrew from Truth Coffee for giving me this opportunity to create something for their building and allowing me to realise a dream.

If you have made it this far and would like to read the manifesto I wrote about this piece, read on:

A genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

This installation art piece by Belinda Basson is a play on time and travel.  The non-functional clock’s hands have been intentionally removed by the airship pirates and their swords put in their place thus creating an interesting juxtaposition and reminding the viewer of the thief of time.

Images supporting both the idea of time and travel re-occur with the use of a miniature alarm clock which looks like it has been brought up from the depths of the ocean after many years of languishing there, its hands stuck at 3 o’clock.  Then there is the genuine hour glass where the sands of time will slide by over a measured hour.  This stands on a vintage suitcase which has been worked over in embossed metal foil with images that depict engaged cogs as from the internal workings of a clock and compass to emphasise the relation to the mannequin standing meters away who wears a foil corset and has matching “skin”.  Her framed male counterpart above her harks back in time to the Victorian era when paper cut out portrait silhouettes were the height of fashion.

The leather suitcase stands open to display the items the time travelling voyager might have used to plan their travels, such as the globe to plot the route, typewriter to communicate anecdotes of the things witnessed back to their loved ones and the camera to capture all the memories for posterity.

Part of the installation, but hanging some distance away, is the rivet studded airship with a gondola depicting a somewhat altered version of the Truth Coffee building, in which it is suspended.  The airship’s stabilisers take their design from the Truth Coffee shop’s logo while the nose-cone and propeller seem to have been retrieved from the same mysterious ocean depths as the miniature alarm clock.

All of this is set against a sea of cogs and pipes aged and rusted due to lack of use, reminiscent of a time when steam was the height of power.


  1. OMG!!!! Fabulous amazing mind boggling eye-popping .....WOW! Belinda you are one fabulously talented artist/designer! Love the installation. The Truth Coffee owners must be besides themselves with your artwork.

  2. You...are...the...most...fantastic...artist, these creations are just out of this world GORGEOUS, totally stunning!! WOW, WOW, WOW, I am nearly totally speechless. I hope the owners have lots of friends who will commission you now too. You never fail to impress but you have gone above and beyond this time!!! Hugs, Anne xx

    PS, you are a-ma-zing!!

  3. WOW!!! A true work of art!!!! Absolutely amazingly freakin' awesome!!!

    Paper Talk with Samra

  4. I had to come over and see this properly. I had seen lots of your pics on fb and instagram, but seeing them altogether is just something else. You have every right to be proud of what you have achieved Bella. This is just awesome and I don't use that word lightly like some folk do.

  5. What an extraordinary installation and how amazing you had the vision to collect and create all the wonderful elements. Blown away x

  6. I normally read your blog in my email, but, in this case, I needed to drop by here and Congratulate you on this Magnificient piece of ART. This is totally Awesome, fantastic job.

  7. Holy Toledo and all that is Steampunkaliscious! Stunning, breathtaking and gorgeous design. I can't even begin to fathom the amount of time and love that went into this fantabulous design! I am drooling over this masterpiece, and absolutely love everything, everything, everything about this, including the story behind it! Huge congrats to you in realizing a dream, you just gave me hope for mine. Thank you for sharing this! WOWZERS! ~Niki

  8. WOW! Belinda this is the most amazing story and journey and I have enjoyed following it. I have friends who have been to Truth and say how amazing it looks. Well done and congrats on getting the contract. You are amazing and you do Steampunk so well.

  9. congratulations ! very nice work .


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