|That chain was probably made in Cradley Heath in the Black Country|
It's an homage to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the great engineers of the Industrial Age, and his ship The Great Britain – the first iron ship, and – then – the largest passenger liner in the world. It was probably built by iron-workers from my own Black Country because, at that time, if you wanted iron-workers, that’s where you found them.
I admit, I was quite teary-eyed as I watched the videos telling how Brunel’s great ship was rescued from the Falklands, where it had been abandoned and left to decay, and towed home to Bristol, finally floating up the River Severn and passing beneath its creator’s great Clifton Suspension Bridge as thousands cheered, and even scattered rose petals onto the ship from the bridge.
Coming from the Black Country, I was raised on the romance and brutality of the Industrial Revolution. My ancestors only met because of the Industrial Revolution – the industry of the Black Country drew them together from Ireland, Wales and the English countryside. (All we were missing, for the complete set, was a Scot, so I went out and found a Fifer.)
So when I came across Sydney Padua’s 2D Goggles, I couldn’t have been more delighted. It’s industrial history. It’s jokes. It’s beautiful, just beautiful drawings. It’s scholarly notes – and more jokes. It’s steam-punk, alternative history, beautifully written – it’s just heaven really.
I love the playfulness. Padua could obviously write a straight historical novel (or comic) if she wanted to – but instead she delights in rewriting history and her heroes and heroines, and making them all dance to her tune – and dance they all do, in a hugely entertaining way. Brunel is metamorphed into a muscular bit of rough trade – as one of the comments puts it, ‘a sexy beast!’ – and I’m sure that, wherever he is, he secretly approves. And if he doesn't, who cares? - He had his fun.
2D Goggles - Just go straight over there and enjoy it!