Kit Plumridge’s ‘Plague Punk – Steampunk goes Viral’ is Now on Display
By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
In a twist of fate, artist Kit Plumridge, 63, started a project—which began with a few masks—a year and a half before the pandemic, his wife, Megan, shared with the Palisadian-Post.
“Typically, life is imitating art,” Kit said, “but now we have art imitating life.”
Megan explained that Kit designed concepts that began with a few masks and grew to be 13 in all, each paired with a musical instrument to make 26 pieces total.
The pieces, Kit’s “Plague Punk – Steampunk goes Viral” exhibit, are on display at the Topanga Canyon Gallery through August 16.
All of the masks, hats and goggles are made of leather and hand stitched.
“Each character has its own story, related to steampunk and Jules Verne,” Megan continued.
Typically, Kit focuses on oil on canvas, but he said that it has been a “really gratifying experience making these leather heads and the associated instruments.”
For the project, Kit channeled his alter ego, Kitonious V Plumii, as a muse, and developed this theme park art as a result: “I’m branding this steampunk art that I do and ultimately, it’s going to grow into something much bigger.”
The show’s pièce de résistance is created with a Pachinko machine Kit owned—a Japanese gambling machine that has been converted into a jukebox. It lights up and plays songs.
He chose Alon Goldsmith and Dale Yudelman songs written in 1980, as well as some audio excerpts of passages by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and George Orwell novels, since all of those books are in the public domain.
Kit said that he will only be selling his work in pairs and is considering selling the entire work as a collection.
The Sunset Mesa resident has been featuring his work at Topanga Canyon Gallery for at least seven years. He shared that his 2019 collection, “Steampunk Drawing Machine,” was incredibly well received and precipitated his 2020 showcase.
“I’ve done a show there every year,” Kit said, “and this year, I’m doing a solo show due to COVID-19.” The show is also shorter than usual due to the pandemic.
The gallery is open for limited hours, but those interested in stopping by can book a personal tour or appointment.
“Plague Punk – Steampunk goes Viral” took Kit two years to complete. He began with the musical instruments and then he began to create the heads. The characters are either a torso or head-and-shoulder vignette.
“I normally name my characters after Jules Verne and H.G. Wells characters,” Kit said. “I’m attracted to the steampunk genre and it’s related to those authors.”
You take a modern object and you do something to it anachronistic to make it look like it’s in the industrial revolution, Kit explained.
However, after not finding many female characters in these books written around 1865, he created what he imagined behind-the-scenes strong female characters would be like, such as a Mrs. Nemo relating to Verne’s novel, “Captain Nemo.”
Kit has been an artist his whole life, actively painting for the past 15 years. He grew up in South Africa, attended a traditional Irish Catholic boarding school and was conscripted into the South African army at 18.
At the age of 36, Kit and his family relocated to California, finding a home on the coast, where he has resided the past 27 years.
Plumridge has been married to Megan for 38 years and the couple has two kids: Timothy, 31, and Caroline, 30. Since all of the family are artists in their own right, they hope to one day do a family art show.
Kit shared that he has many plans for future work, and the pandemic has actually provided him an opportunity to focus. He’s embarking on a project to make three to five cut-out birch plywood sculptures of people doing yoga poses, covered with a leather skin.
He plans to make the pieces so massive, he can’t just do them in one shot. Kit will alternate his time with painting.
Kit also has a passion for sailing and surfing, and he’s crafted a series of brightly colored lifeguard towers inspired by fellow Palisadian Ed Massey.
Though it has been six months since Kit has painted, he soon will begin creating 3D towers—standalone mini sculptures of the lifeguard towers in all different sizes.
For more information visit kitplumridge.com or follow @kitplumridge on Instagram.
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