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In pictures: Rowland Emett's Marvellous Machines

Whimsical, wonderful and unique are just some of the words used to describe the Marvellous Machines exhibition - the largest collection of works by cartoonist and inventor Rowland Emett - which features at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until 21 September.

Emett, who was born in London in 1906 and went to school in Birmingham, is behind some of the many contraptions which featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, including The Visivision (left) and the Clockwork Lullaby machine (top right). The film brought him international success following its release.

Tim Griffiths, from Birmingham, who set up the Rowland Emett Society in 2012, helped bring the machines to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery by contacting private owners and asking them to loan them for this exhibition.

For those who do not know Emett's style, Mr Griffiths says his ideas took "an element from the past but created something futuristic".

Emett's inventions have mainly been in storage but featured in Leeds after businessman and fan Arnold Ziff bought some of the machines and put them in his newly-built Merrion Shopping Centre.

The artist's gigantic clock, featured in Nottingham's Victoria Centre, is in Birmingham over the next four months for the exhibition, based in the Gas Hall at Millennium Point.

One of the many machines to feature and to be given it full name is Featherstone Kite Openwork Basketweave Gentleman's MK11 Flying Machine.

It is constructed using cane, various implements from around the home and powered by a swarm of silver butterflies. The pilot is ready to fly, as well as autopilot F.R.E.D. who is made up of a cheese grater, spoons and forks.

Marvellous Machines showcases Emett's work down the years and includes the very last machine he made in 1983 called A Quiet Afternoon In The Cuckoo Valley.

Mr Griffiths says: "It was only on display for about three years and has been in storage since the 1990s. It's the biggest one he ever did and at the end of his career."

A Quiet Afternoon In The Cuckoo Valley comprises several sections and includes a water feature - though for the exhibition it will be simulated.

As well as his machines Rowland Emett's distinctive drawings, designs and illustrations are included in the exhibition. Emett's drawings featured in Punch, adverts and wartime booklets.

The fine detail in the machines, from the simpler Hush-a-Bye Hot Air Rocking Machine through to the more complex Maud Moon-Probe Lunacycle, give the displays much of their broad appeal.

"You can stand looking at one of his machines for ages and keep finding new things on them. Each time you look you notice something else," Mr Griffiths says.

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