Back to All Events


This Event has now ended.

Time: 12.00 – 19.00. A performance by James Capper using the Hydraulic Testing Machine was at 14.00 from Wednesdays to Sundays

Location: Kirkaldy Testing Museum, 99 Southwark Street, SE1 OJF

Award winning artist James Capper makes kinetic sculptures based on industrial machinery, he invents new forms, functions and aesthetics for familiar machines.

For MERGE festival Capper was the  artist in residence at the Kirkaldy Testing Museum, developing ideas that would culminate into an exhibition and performances of his work.
Merging art and science, Capper worked with a unique Victorian water powered Hydraulic Testing Machine to create new sculptures; by expanding various materials to test their stretching points. The experiments became performance pieces and the finished sculptures would form an exhibition within the museum. Capper also held Q & A sessions where the public could ask questions about the machine and his work.

In an area of Britain not normally renowned for its part in the Industrial Revolution, Kirkaldy Testing Museum put Bankside firmly on the map as a historic location for innovative engineering. By highlighting the link between art and science we tried to introduce this forgotten part of local history to people who might not have been aware that Bankside was a hive of industry in the 19th century. Unfortunately the museum is now in jeopardy of closure, so this may be the last time this listed machinery can be seen in its original home. We hope the publicity generated from this exhibition may have helped to save the museum from closure.

About the Museum:
In 1874 the distinctive Victorian building was specifically built around the Hydraulic Testing Machine to become "Kirkaldy's Testing and Experimenting Works". Proudly declaring above the door “Facts not Opinions”, it was the place where the first breaking point experiments took place on iron and steel to determine their strength. Primarily using Kirkaldy's own patented design of testing machine, this innovative engine pushed materials, through hydraulics, to their limits. Manufacturers sent materials from all over the world - including parts for James Eads 1867 St Louis Bridge over the Mississippi River and parts of the failed Tay Bridge in 1880. The Kirkaldy family ran the business for almost 100 years, the museum tells the wider history of materials testing.