Paul Spooner was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1948. He had mechanical interests from an early age. In 1964 he completed a preDiploma course at Lancaster College of Art where he made a clock and a steam engine from wood. At Cardiff from 1966 to 1969 he studied Art and Design, specialising in mechanical sculpture.
In 1974 Paul moved to Stithians, Cornwall. He made weaving looms for his wife Sue, but mainly worked as a van driver. It wasn’t until 1981 that he made his first edition of automata featuring the Egyptian Jackal-headed God, Anubis.
For the next two years he made small machines usually sold in limited editions through Cabaret in Falmouth. In 1983 Cabaret became a Mechanical Theatre and between 1985 and 2000 it was located in Covent Garden, London, with over 40 of Paul’s machines in the collection. The exhibits now tour around the world.
Since 1986 Paul has collaborated with Matthew Smith on the design of a series of small editions. These are still made regularly for CMT by Matthew under the name of The Fourteen Ball Toy Co.
Paul has also produced two card cutout books; Spooner’s Moving Animals and The Museum of the Mind, as well as the children’s book, Red Roger.
In 1989 he was one of the main artists involved in designing and building the Ride of Life. Since then he has a had number of commissions for larger work including exhibits for the Science Museum and a group of life-size animated figures for Louis Vuitton, the luggage maker (1995). His television programme, Mechanisms (part of the Machinations series), was broadcast by Channel 4 in 1995.
Paul Spooner’s work combines humour and an obsessive attention to detail with delightful and intriguing mechanisms.
“My work as an artist / mechanic amounts to a constant pursuit of elegance and simplicity. I haven’t caught up with either yet because I don’t know how to finish things. Except sometimes. And even then I’m not sure.”