2024 Festival Dates: 6 & 7 July


Thingamabobas is a playful, sensory experience where participants meet and interact with a circus troupe of performative mechanical and kinetic structures in this animatronic and robotic circus of bizarrely wonderful machines created to inspire, delight and intrigue.

The work combines robotics, found objects, sensing technology, and circus performers such as acrobats, trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, jugglers, and unicyclists. It draws inspiration from the absurd contraptions of Heath Robinson and Rowland Emett and Calder’s Circus.

A team of artists and creative technologists crafted the five sculptures from various traditional materials, children’s toys, and repurposed materials in innovative ways. The result is a set of eye-catching artworks that ignite curiosity in audiences, young and old!

Brand new for the National Festival of Making will be the launch of a new sensory area for the early years.

Sensory Friendly sessions of Thingamabobs are available.

This will be a half-hour session on Saturday and Sunday morning with reduced capacity, reduced sound and reduced queueing where possible.

Please only book onto these sessions if you or a member of your family would benefit from a more relaxed and reduced-capacity environment. The installation is also open from 11am – 5pm for walk-ups on the day and is always FREE to visit.

Makers of Imaginary Worlds is a Nottingham-based company that designs and makes immersive experiences, sensory performances, and installations for children 0-10 years old. Their playful, sensorial and interactive spaces combine sensing technologies with crafts. Their work considers the whole audience experience and how to encourage interactivity and play, using all the senses to achieve an immersive experience. Makers of Imaginary Worlds specialise in making tangible interfaces seamlessly combining traditional craft techniques with interactive technologies.

Their installations can provide a site for dance, performances, storytelling and imaginary play. All the team are passionate about making quality work for children. Dr Roma Patel (co-founder) is a scenographer and digital artist, and she has designed interactive and site-specific performance, theatre and digital installations in the UK and Europe since 2000. Her recent PhD at the University of Nottingham focused on the points of intersection between scenography and interactive technologies in Theatre for Early Years. Rachel Ramchurn (co-founder) began her artistic career in 2000, involving participatory methods to inspire chainsaw sculpture. She has spent over 15 years as a freelance artist creating and exhibiting works of art in public spaces and delivering social engagement workshops to families and children in and around the North West.

Cobot Maker Space, Mixed Reality Lab and the Institute of Policy and Engagement at the University of Nottingham support the research in the Thingamabobas project.




2019 Trusts & Foundations

The National Festival Of Making Delivery Team

National Festival of Making is supported by the Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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