Thousands flock to Maker Faire at the Centre for Life in Newcastle

The Maker Faire celebrated science, technology and art, and was in full swing for its fifth year at the Centre for Life in Newcastle


Flaming dragons, dancing robots and daleks meant there was something for every science fan yesterday.

The Maker Faire celebrated science, technology and art, and was in full swing for its fifth year at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

Elsie the dragon and Rusty the fire-breathing mechanical horse both came courtesy of street-performer Paka, and were among many weird and wonderful exhibits at the show.

Elsewhere was Robohand - a giant 6,000kg robotic hand famous for its ability to crush cars – which stood in Times Square surrounded by the wreckage of several cars.

Architecture student Henry McKenzie, 25, travelled from Berlin specially for the event. He said: “I really wanted to come to see what these people were making. I’m so impressed with the robots!”

Special appearances were made from Star Wars, Dr Who, and a video of a thermoplastic dress dissolving into the sea.

The creator of the dress, artist Helen Schell, was also the maker of the Beam Dress - a space-age ball gown made from scientifically-created materials.

With its neon yellow and orange colours, and fluorescent silver lining, it was a striking foray into alternative fashion inspired by science.

Visitors could assume the voice of the Daleks by talking into a special voice-ring changer made by company SciPhonix.

Jim Dearden, of SciPhonix, said: “Maker Faire has been absolutely fantastic, people love the Daleks. Sometimes the kids are a bit shy, but most of the time they adore it.”

Bitbot, a robot made from purple wheelie bins, stood in Times Square ready to do a spot of moonwalking.

Ben Raine from Emergency Exits Arts was one of the creators of Bitbot. He said: “We built it in about three weeks and it was very full-on!

“It was originally commissioned for a recycling campaign in London, but we’ve taken it to festivals around the country.”

Emergency Exit Arts also built Turbo the Disco Turtle – a giant turtle which rode around Times Square blaring disco music.

Ben said: “It’s a bit of fun, after all what could you do with a giant turtle? Turn it into a mobile disco of course!”

Maker Faire also gave visitors the chance to try their hand at a variety of skills and crafts as well as teaching them how to recycle technology and everyday goods.

Centre of Life chief executive Linda Conlon said: “Maker Faire fits in with Newcastle’s history of inventing things.

“Stephenson’s workshop where the Rocket was built is here, many of the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries came from here and now we have the makers of the 21st Century coming here.

“For me the highlight is seeing young people having a go at making things and enjoying themselves.

“While it is fun, there is a serious side as we need more people to get into science and technology, especially girls.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer