LONDON – The kinetic art piece “A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley,” created by British artist and inventor Rowland Emett, who was famous for being the brain behind the magic, flying car in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” will go under the hammer at Bonhams auction house in London on September 3.
The sale is expected to attract a six-figure sum, according to Bonhams, which added that it is the last and largest piece by this famous constructor of whimsical kinetic sculptures.
“A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley” was first constructed from wood and metal and had been destined to become a decoration for a shopping center in Basildon, England, but the plan was changed upon its completion in 1984.
In 1992 it was installed in London’s Spitalfields market.
After its time at the market came to an end, it was put into storage.
Then, in 1999, thieves managed to steal the creation and sell it onto a scrap metal dealer, who became suspicious and informed the police.
“A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley” was exhibited again at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in May 2014, prompting a 70 percent rise in visitor numbers.
The artwork portrays “the tale of a pleasure trip on the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway that tell a single, coherent story,” the privately-owned international auction house said.
A train named “Wild Goose” makes for the creation’s center-piece.
The train is driven by “an ingenious driver who toasts tea-cakes on the fire-box” while the train is moving along the railway line.
The three-dimension piece, which has been fully restored, consists of eight machines that still work properly.
Emett was born in London in 1906 and studied art to eventually become one of the most popular cartoonists at the British weekly humor magazine of Punch, and then a Cartoon Editor.
The artist, who died in 1990, was famous for creating these so-called dream machines.
“His most recognizable pieces (in many people’s eyes) are the crazy inventions or ‘thingamabobs’ of ‘Caractacus Potts’ (played by Dick Van Dyke) in the 1968 all-time classic movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Bonhams said.