A Rather Unusual Telephone Box
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
It sounds bizarre but Ann Evans went along to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the unveiling of a telephone box!
The work of one of the world’s most amazing kinetic artists, Pascal Bettex, has gone on show in Stratford upon Avon. But you won’t find this sculpture on a plinth – but inside a red telephone box.
Take a stroll along Henley Street near Shakespeare’s birthplace and you’ll spot two decommissioned red telephone boxes. One of them has been completely transformed into a fantastic display of kinetic art as a tribute to William Shakespeare.
A sensor on the front of the box illuminates the display of ‘impossible’ square-shaped and oval-shaped gears and fantasy objects that will hold you spellbound.
The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) Museum situated just a few hundred yards along the street purchased the telephone box and commissioned one of their favourite artists, Pascal Bettex of Switzerland to create the fantasy moving sculpture inside the box.
At the official unveiling on the evening of the 10th January, owner of the MAD museum, Richard Simmons said that he and museum manager Iain Simmons hold Pascal in such high esteem he was the obvious choice to create a moving masterpiece.
Richard said, “I’m a great admirer of Pascal’s work and we’re indebted to him for creating a free piece for us when the museum first opened. This was an opportunity to repay him. We had a small budget and so commissioned him to create something for us.”
Stratford Mayor Cllr. Kate Rolfe officially cut the red ribbon and unveiled the telephone box to the delight of guests and BBC TV cameras. Adding to the surrealism of the evening, a Dickensian-type street artist, ‘Rimski and his bicycle piano’ tinkled out tunes as onlookers drank hot punch. It was certainly an unusual evening and making it extra special, were sculptor Pascal Bettex and his wife Betty who had travelled over from their home in Montreau to install the sculpture.
It took Pascal two months to design the piece after being sent the dimensions of the telephone box, and then two days to rebuild it in situ.
“People will look at this, then come back and look again and see something different. Maybe a third time they will see something else they hadn’t noticed before. You don’t take it all in at first,” said Pascal who has been creating these amazing kinetic fantasy works of art since 1999 and whose work is in 15 different countries around the world including the US, China and all over Europe.
Pointing out the ‘impossible’ gears which are shaped anything but conventionally round, he added, “The gears are oval and square – teachers of mechanics say it’s not possible! I love to see people’s faces as they look at my work.”
At just 10 years old, Pascal was first inspired by the work of the world renown Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely. Then encouraged by his father and grandfather created his first mobile aged 16. Since 1999 he has dedicated himself to kinetic art, specialising in the creation of mobile fantasies.
Pascal is passionate about using recycled materials, giving new life to old mechanics. He added, “I like to use recycled and ancient materials. The base here is from a mountain railway in Switzerland and there’s old wheels from a treadle sewing machine. I have 40 tonnes of spares at home.
“It is an honour to have this commission. My wife, Betty and I spend time in the UK and Stratford is a beautiful town. For me to be able to have my work on show to the public here in Stratford is a very great honour.”
For more information on the MAD Museum: www.themadmuseum.co.uk
For more information on Pascal Bettex: www.bettexmatic.com