Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Aquio Nishida, Automaton-Artist (1946 - 2009)

Aquio Nishida, Automata-Artist  (1946 - 2009)It is with great sadness that we note the passing earlier this month of one of the world's great makers of contemporary automata -- Aquio Nishida.

Mr. Nishida was an automata designer, author, teacher, and the Director of the Contemporary Toy Museum of Japan.

Sue Jackson, founder of of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, says that "Aquio was very remarkable, as he not only made automata himself but also wrote his own book on the subject which was translated in 2 languages, and ran his own, very extensive, exhibition. I was honored to receive one of the first toys -- which I still have -- on meeting him for the first time in Japan. Aquio and I exchanged merchandise, his book for our videos and book; The relationship worked well for both of us."

Nishida Horse AutomatonHis automata were notable for their graceful lines, beautiful wooden gears, and their all-wood construction, which included even the linkages, pivots, and fasteners.

Mr. Nishida often incorporated music boxes into his works adding to their already considerable charm. He was particularly adept at creating automata that accurately depicted legged animals in motion.

Automata: Movable IllustrationMr. Nishida was the author of one of the best books on making contemporary automata, entitled Automata: Movable Illustration (Tokyo, Japan: Fujin Seikatsu, 2002). Written in parallel Japanese and English text, the book is part journal, part sketchbook, part do-it-yourself manual. Movable Illustration examines Nishida's process of automata creation and construction. The book manages to offer helpful advice to aspiring makers, while also serving as a portfolio of his beautiful work. The detailed plan drawings and full page color photographs of the Nishida's distinctive automata make this book a delight to peruse.

Here is some video footage of some of Nishida's automata:

He was known to be a generous teacher to those wishing to learn how to make wood automata. He leaves behind a fine legacy of outstanding craftsmanship, playfulness, and artistry. He will be missed by many.

Here is a series of photographs from a Nishida exhibit.

Mr. Nishida's book, Movable Illustration, is imported from Japan and may be ordered from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.

10 March 2009 Sadly CMT has no books in stock at this moment.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. What a loss for all of us. I based my first automata on his running horse design.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

February 17, 2009 at 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very sad...........he was a great automatamaker.........it is why his blog was silencer.


March 11, 2009 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know if his book is available anywhere? Some years ago he offerred to just send me a copy (I was shocked by his kind offer as we had never met) but he must have forgotten about it. I would really love to get a copy. Even photocopied, if it is presumably out of print now.
Andy Voda

May 27, 2009 at 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Martin Smith said...

A very sad loss of a very fine man.

July 4, 2009 at 7:56 AM  

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