Mechanical Pangolin - Coral Woods

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London View Inspiration Details

Artist Statement

Coral Woods

The Mechanical Pangolin is inspired by several objects in the Museum of Childhood. I visited because my class at Morley is in making automata, and I very much enjoyed looking at the variety of mechanical toys there, however I was particularly struck by two other things during my visit: The Slinky toy and the detailed fish-scale marble mosaic floor of the museum made by women prisoners from Woking gaol. The Slinky was being demonstrated to a party of schoolchildren when I visited. I have always loved the simplicity of the way the spring bends and flows, and the rich sinuous tactile feel of the toy, it is evidently still a popular toy, though it was first manufactured in 1945. The fish-scale floor is poignant, the laborious nature of the work, and that you can appreciate the different hands in the varied sizes of mosaic, resonated with me.

In researching scales, I came across varieties of ‘dragon scales’ online, and decided to make my own ‘scalemaille’, fashioned into a pangolin that would curl up like a Slinky toy. Like all my ideas, this was easier to think of than to execute! Linking the scales into a ‘skin’ was quite difficult, and I wanted the movement to be looped and smooth – my first ideas of using a cam proved too sticky, but I learned more as the class progressed, and also to treat gravity as my friend, so now it moves well!

I still have 4 classes to go in my course (it ends March24th) and so the work is not yet 100% finished. I used a prototype box to work out the mechanism, and I am looking for one with a better aesthetic. I am also still looking for suitable claws (I need 16).

Mechanical Pangolin - Coral Woods

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspiration details:


USA (manufactured)

1995 (manufactured)

James Industries Inc (manufacturer)


Exhibition Guide

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