Saturday Art Club – Whimsical Masterpieces

When whimsical ideas meet artistic ability, truly magical things can happen! This Saturday Art Club activity is inspired by the creations of Peter Fischli and David Weiss in our TASTE! exhibition.

Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss have consistently captivated and amused audiences with their extraordinary transformations of the commonplace since the late 1970s. In our very own Gallery 2 featured as part of the TASTE collection, you can see one of their video works entitled “The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge), 1987”, based on the idea of a Rube Goldberg machine. The Rube Goldberg machine is a system, invention, device or an apparatus that is intentionally over-engineered to perform a simple or mundane task in a complicated manner through a process that usually includes a chain reaction.

An example of a Rube Goldberg Machine to staple paper.

The Way Things Go builds on modern art’s investigation of the space between high art and the everyday. The film was shot in a stark warehouse and automobile tires, rubbish bags, and plastic water jugs take centre stage, rolling, twisting, and exploding in what seems to be an unbroken, thirty-minute sequence of events. In preparation for this film, Fischli and Weiss worked for a full year to perfect a series of chain reactions in which objects would topple, burst, burn, and smoke, shifting kinetic energy from one to the next. This film originated in a series of photographs, called Equilibres, that the duo created in 1984 and 1987, which take precariously balanced industrial objects as their subjects. The camera minimizes differences in scale—for example, between a barrel and a balloon—and the objects take the place of human actors, who are nowhere to be found.

Underlying all of their work is a childlike spirit of discovery which encourages the viewer to look differently at their surroundings. In Fischli and Weiss’s world everyday objects take on an unexpectedly lifelike quality; they balance on each other, play off each other and collide into one another with a witty intelligence infused by the artists.

With this in mind, we would like to encourage you to try create your own whimsical sculpture or invention inspired by Fischli and Weiss!


By using found items around your home, try to make your very own sculpture. Some items to consider may include cushions, toilet roll tubes, pens/pencils, bin bags, lego, balloons, clothes, Sellotape, bouncy balls, string, blankets, shoes – quite literally anything you can access easily! Or perhaps you’d like to design your own invention to help with a task at home. If your creation works – AMAZING! If it doesn’t – STILL AMAZING! Sometimes the fun is all in the making, or even the idea of something so whimsical to make a cup of tea!

  1. Create a sculpture from everyday objects found around your house similar to the example shown. Experiment with balance, scale, and take some photographs! 
  1. Now you can try a ‘kinetic sculpture’ – a sculpture which incorporates movement to gain full effect. Like the sculpture in the Fischli/Weiss video, energy is transferred from one object to another which is how the objects move. Other examples of kinetic sculptures include mechanical machines or ‘wind-up’ figurines, as well as hanging mobiles which incorporate natural elements like the wind or rain. Using objects from your home, try making sculptures that move.

Check our video below to see how we did it!

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