Big Kids' Cracking Night Out
In 1989, Wallace and Gromit had their very first adventure. Taking off in a homemade rocket, the pair soon found themselves hunting for cheese on the moon. Since then, Wallace and Gromit’s cheese-tracking and sheep-shearing escapades have entertained children and adults alike for over 20 years. Now, thanks to Museum Victoria and Scienceworks, the claymation human-canine duo are leaving the UK and coming to Melbourne. Vera Gin, project manager of Scienceworks’ upcoming Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention exhibition, spoke not only about bringing the British inventor and his dog pal Down Under, but also how Scienceworks are going to let the grown-ups have their fun with the cartoon characters for a night.
“At Scienceworks we like to focus on physical sciences and technology, and Wallace is always trying to come up with inventive ideas on how to make his life easier. So the Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention is about being creative and innovative,” Gin explained of the new exhibition. “Sometimes [Wallace’s] inventions are a bit hair-brained but he’s quite persistent. We try and debunk the hard science stuff that helps us understand everyday things around us. Wallace does that as well through his inventions and he does it in a really fun and quirky way.”
At its core, Wallace & Gromit may be a children’s animation, but the exhibition goes beyond what is seen on the screen. “The exhibition was first thought up by Ardman [animation studio] and the Intellectual Property Office of the UK. They thought that Wallace and Gromit was the perfect vehicle to talk about creativity and encourage people to think outside the box and create things, but to also remind people that there is this body out there called the IPO who can help you protect your amazing ideas,” Gin explained when asked about how the exhibition came to light. “We’re all big kids on the inside, but you get to the middle of high school and you stop being creative and taking risks because you’re afraid of what people are going to think. But people who are persistent and resilient, they get their inventions out there and we shouldn’t squash that curiosity as an inventor.”
Gin herself approached her job curating the Melbourne leg of the exhibition with wonder, often surprised by the plasticine pair. “One of the things that continues to amaze me is [that] we have nine actual sets from the movies, and I didn’t realise how small they were. They’re all small and cute, and the detail in them is amazing.”
After a gap was becoming more and more noticeable in the adult programming of the museum, Scienceworks held their inaugural Big Kid’s Night Out event last year; an evening that gave an opportunity for the strictly over-18s to explore. “The first one was more successful than we thought,” Gin explained, the night seeing 700 people come through the museum. The event has returned this year coinciding with the Wallace and Gromit exhibition to give the now-older kids a blast from the past. Gin explained that it was Wallace and Gromit’s longevity that made it the perfect candidate for the “Cracking” night out. “There are older generation that are familiar with [Wallace and Gromit]. Over time it has spanned generations. At Scienceworks we like to, when we can, have experiences that can span these generations and resonate with as many people as possible.”
Scienceworks has been an incredible opportunity for children to explore and learn, while adults can often remain inhibited. Gin explained that Big Kid’s “Cracking” Night Out is purely about adults getting the first go. “Kids have this sense of wonder, and they’ll try everything-with the adults standing back, it’s almost like they ‘ruin’ the experience for them. So Big Kid’s Night Out [allowed] adults…to experience it all to themselves without people around to take the surprise out of it. It’s about people reengaging themselves with science. It’s just fun.”
Unfortunately, there will be no Wrong Trousers, Gin informed. However, there will be a karaoke shower. “Clothing is mandatory of course, but you can go in there and you can belt out a rendition, and outside there is a screen where friends can watch and laugh and ridicule you.” Though the night will not only be about Wallace and his dog – Scienceworks’ astronomer Dr Tanya Hill will take all the big kids on a journey throughout space in the Planetarium, a lighting room show with the museum’s 2 million volt tesla coil, as well as many opportunities to get hands-on.
BY ALEXANDRA DUGUID
Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention exhibition opens at Scienceworks on Saturday May 19, with the Big Kids' Cracking Night Out to be held on Saturday May 26 starting at 6pm. Tickets are $22 and will be available online from the Museum Victoria website. Wallace and Gromit are only holidaying in Melbourne for six months, so be sure to visit them.