The automative sculpture in progress. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


A rtists are staying at home, and despite the disruptions to their lives and limited access to materials and space, many still feel an urge to create. Some are making works that respond directly to the experiences they have been going through; others, now with unexpected spare time, are realising suspended projects that have nothing to do with the developing global crisis. I spoke to some established artists on the island about their creations over the past months.

Simon Blades
Mechanical Contemporary Automata Maker and Kinetic Artist
Greatly inspired by the Automata makers of the 1700’s such as Jaquet Droz, Henri Millardet and Jacques Vaucanson Simon describes himself as a self taught engineer. “I learned to create mechanical sculptures in my youth with Meccano and Technical Lego toys then later as a Special Effects Engineer in international theme parks such as the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi where he worked on Benno’s Great Race. I now combine all my experiences in my Artwork. I collect various mechanical antiques for use in my creations. I collect old pieces of machines which I use in my work, I find these older parts beautiful as well as functional. I also incorporate modern parts and engineering processes . I have no limit for material choice but during the lockdown I did struggle to get some bits. What would normally take me about four months to create has taken six months.” How has lockdown affected him? “I have my workshop next to my apartment so I have managed to keep going throughout. When it was colder I stoked up the fire and made the area nice and cosy. I am very lucky I know, a lot of people have not been able to go to their companies.

His newest creation, “The Acrobot”, is now completed and ready to be shipped to the States in June. The sculpture is based on an automaton he admires from the 1700s which is a small clown moving up a ladder into a handstand by Roullet and Decamps. Simon’s work is an extraordinarily intricate moving sculpture which moves into a handstand and then onto one hand “When I shared the video of the piece in action on Linked In someone thought it was CGI!” What’s next? “I am working on a piece for a jewellers in Mumbai of a proposal”. Simon’s biggest dream is to have an exhibition space of his own in Majorca, maybe one day it will happen he says!

Mandy Racine
“I think our productivity has shown how important creativity is to people during lockdown, it focuses the mind on something positive and rewarding!” Mandy tells me. “My latest work is a large-scale abstract ‘Barroco’ which is inspired by Baroque painted ceilings. I love the scale and impact of them and wanted to do a contemporary interpretation. I had intended to travel to London at the end of March to see the British Baroque exhibition at the Tate, but unfortunately that couldn’t happen. However, I did order the exhibition catalogue which has provided me with plenty of inspirational material. In ‘Barroco’ I’ve focused on blocks of colour and texture and painted it in a very gestural way to emphasise movement, the canvas itself measures 170 x 150cm.

“I’ve been very busy painting at my studio during lockdown, in fact, it’s more or less life as normal for me, because I’m at the studio seven days a week and definitely don’t regard it as ‘work’. It’s mostly a pleasure, but of course there are times where it can be very frustrating or a painting just doesn’t work out, in which case I usually face it to the wall and revisit it after a while to decide whether it’s worth saving or just paint over it. I’ve been lucky enough to sell a few during this lockdown time, ‘Allegory’, my latest sale which will be heading to the United States next week”.
You can find Mandy at or on Instagram - mandyracine9584.

Gudula Becker
“As I didn’t have normal clay or a kiln to fire my work, I could only order online self drying clay and try something completely new by making these bodies which I call “sisters” Based on my sister and I, as I lost my sister last year and wanted to make something colourful to remember her by. They dried and I have painted them with acrylic paint.

“I am a body sculpture artist but I have never painted like these before so in this quietness and peaceful time I found I wanted to do something completely different to lift up my spirit with the colours.

Then my mother asked me if I would paint some snow houses for her, so as I started I realised I quite enjoyed this process although fiddly but it gave me a feeling of peace just sitting on my terrace with some music and painting. I also put them on my own homemade plates when I gave them back to her and she is now using them as a coffee table decoration.” You can contact Gudula by email >