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The Great Exhibition has been a key feature of the Asylym Steampunk Fesival for a number of years.


We welcome previously unseen and anonymised entries in a number of categories.

For 2023 we created two more awards. The first was the Lewis Carroll Award for a 2D ar 3D creation with a Fairytale theme. Entries were invited in advance of the  Steampunk Fairytale weekend. The entries were judged blind at the event by a team of judges from our host (Belvoir Castle) and the award went to Alice Prudom for her mixed media creation 'Alice in Steampunk' (see below). 

The second new award was the H.G. Wells award for a 2D or 3D creation with a Time Travel theme. Entries were invited in advance of The Town That Never Was. The entries were again judged blind by a team of judges from our host (this time Blists Hill Victorian Town) who knew nothing of the identity of any of the entrants, and nothing about the entries for the Lewis Carroll award.

Just as at the Steampunk Fairytale Weekend, the judges made it clear that they found it hard to choose between a series of excellent entries, but after much deliberation they chose Andrew Prudom's diorama "What Had Happened In Surrey" (see below).  

Two different events. Two different subjects. Two completely different entries. Two completely independent teams of judges. One family. Huge congratulations to team Prudom from the MoS! 

Steampunk truly is for families - in every possible way.

So who is going to win the medals at Asylum? Read on. 

The Great Exhibition at Asylum 2023

As in previous years, we will welcome entries for The Great Exhibition Competition at Asylum XIII. There is no 'theme' set at the Asylum and entries can be 2D or 3D artworks, textiles or poems. Awards are given in the following categories:

The Brunel Award for the Spirit of Steampunk

The Jules Verne Award for Ingenuity

The Pugin Award for Craftsmanship

The Rosetti Award for Aesthetics

The Ruskin Award for a painting, drawing or other 2D artwork

The Steam Bear Award

The Worth Award for Textiles

The Bernhardi Award for Poetry

There is no need to pre-register entries at the Asylum. Together with your creation you will need to bring along a card describing the work in 100 words, with your name and contact details (phone number and email) on the back. 

For the Bernhardi Award for poetry your entry must be on a card no bigger than 6 x 4 inches and legible by a person with 'reasonable' eyesight. 

Please bring your entries to the ground floor of the Men's Prison in the Castle on Saturday morning between 10:00 and 12:00. 

All entries must be your own work and must not have been seen previously, either in real life or on line. Entries will all be judged blind by an independent panel by Monday morning when notices will be placed alongside the winning entries so that entrants and other festival attendees will be able to check back to see which entry won which award.


Each award winner will receive one of the new Ministry of Steampunk Creativity Award Medals (pictured) which will be individually numbered on the back. The medals will be awarded during the closing ceremony on Monday afternoon at the Bandstand, together with a numbered certificate. The ministry will keep a database of all winners for future reference.

If you wish to to offer a creation marked as "for exhibition only" you are welcome to do so, in which case it will not be considered for the awards described above.  

We can't wait to see the entries for The Great Exhibition at Asylum XIII. 


A note from Andy Arbon about Let's Steampunk Poundland

The Let’s Steampunk Poundland challenge has been running in between Asylum 2022 and Asylum 2023. The idea for the challenge began with people joking when I gave maker talks that I used a lot of stuff from Poundland. So, the inevitable idea came to me, could you build an entire Steampunk object using only items from Poundland?


At Asylum 2022 I ran a session called “Let’s Steampunk Poundland” which turned out to be incredibly popular overflowing out of the room we had for the session. In this session the rules of the challenge were decided, and it has been running for one year to allow makers to take advantage of Poundland’s seasonal stock.


The completed items will be in this year’s Great Exhibition and will be eligible for Let’s Steampunk Poundland prizes as well as the coveted MoS Great Exhibition medals.


Let’s Steampunk Poundland has a Sunday Afternoon slot in the Assembly rooms for prize giving and to discuss the next challenge.


The H.G. Wells Award for a 2D or 3D creation on a Time Travel Theme
Awarded to Andrew Prudom for "What Had Happened in Surrey"

The year is I938, somewhere in the southern English county of Surrey, shortly after the failed invasion of Great Britain by the Martians. It is a time for celebration amidst the clearing and rebuilding, drawing many a time-traveller from across time and space to witness this historical event for themselves, and for some, their other selves from another point in their timeline.

Spirits are high as the preparations are being made for a large street party, and a detachment from Her Majesty s Martian Expeditionary Force (M.E.F.) are removing the last remnants of the Martian fighting-machine left abandoned in the town square after its occupants succumbed to everyday earthly diseases. The Martian red weed is still present, clinging to the buildings, although now receding.


As the sun sets, high above the square a rail excursion is taking all manner of temporal travellers on a tour of the town, passing over the dirigible factory, before dropping guests at either the celebration event tonight or the grand '"Fixed Point" ball, held in the town hall last Tuesday. 
Underneath the viaduct, a young boy is studying the recruitment posters for the MEF, watched on from a far by the occupant of a strange blue Police Box. Unfortunately for this young chap it would be a few more years before he would be allowed to go to Mars.

The Lewis Carroll Award for a 2D or 3D creation on a Fairytale Theme
Awarded to Alice Prudom for "Alice in Steamland"

After wandering through Wonderland and going Through The Looking Glass, Alice trips and falls into Steamland!

Eerily similar to Wonderland, but with a few more marvelous machines. 

Created using Powertex and mixed media, various Wonderland inspired objects appear to leap out of the boo. Watch out for Absolem the catterpillar who has had a Cog-gy  makeover.



The Brunel Award for the Spirit of Steampunk 
Awarded to Alice Horton for her "Brain Hat"

The brain hat is a vintage bowler hat with a knitted hat with icord brain on top.


The hat adds +10 to the intelligence of the wearer, with a -5 to charisma, and enables creative and broad thinking.


(Motivation sold seperately)

The Jules Verne Award for Ingenuity
Awarded to Suzie Batters for "The Journey Begins Now"

This was a child's balance bike that was discarded.


I saw its purpose to make a steampunk bicycle out of it.


It's powered by imagination and smiles.


I used leather, rivets and painting techniques.


The bicycle can and will take you anywhere.

The Pugin Award for Craftsmanship
Awarded to Heln Bel Palmer for "A Fine Friend"

Gazing at the abandoned bicycle Mo-Jo grinned at his ‘Great big idea’. He and his friends would go to Lincoln in fine style. First, the bicycle needed to be the right way up.

Scurrying back to the Hidden Village, Mo-Jo contemplated how many might be needed to make it go?


‘Me an’ another can hang off the handles and steer. Another somebody should sit on the front wheel an’ point the way. Two somebodies can push the pedal foots up an’ down...’


Every fairy figure (Um...Eleven?) wings, clothing etc scratch made, sculptured and painted by hand.

The Rosetti Award for Aesthetics
Awarded to Bethan Liente for "Rex Shirtripper Does It Again"

Intrepid explorer and famed dinocologist, Rex Shirtripper, poses for the front cover of Derring-Do Quarterly; his 17th to date.


Asked about his latest escapade, Rex was keen to point out that despite his cover appearance, he still very much worked with his hands, and had indeed taken on his rival's submarine 'as nature intended.'


"The blunderbuss is more of a big ... starter pistol. Lets 'em know the game is on! [sic]"”

Rex Shirtripper.jpg

The Ruskin Award for painting, drawing or other 2D artwork
Awarded to Sarah-Jane Tonks for "What I Did On My Holidays"

Painted in ink and watercolours, this piece inverts the classic Victorian sea-side postcard, depicting an octopus suitably outfitted in a pressurised suit to spend a day on the beach making sandcastles.  

The Steam Bear Award 
Awarded to Sharon Watts for "Lady Emily Spinach in her Jubil-tea Outift"

Lady Emily Spinach wears a bespoke outfit with all items made just for her - she has a unique shape which was quite challenging at times to draft patterns for! Her outfit is made from both recycled fabric (a bed sheet) and new fabric, with techniques and patterns adapted from person-sized garments.

Awarded to Sharon Watts for 'Lady Emily Spinach in her Jubil-tea outfit', celebrating the 70 glorious years reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

For the princely sum of £3 (pus P&P), this lonely and unloved bear was rescued from an online auction site. After some TLC, including minor neck surgery, she was reborn as Lady Emily Spinach, with a new life as a much loved companion bear.

Emily Spinach was the name of a pet garter snake belonging to Alice Roosevelt, daughter of American President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1902 he said of Alice, ‘I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both’. Alice was rebellious in her nature, and would wear Emily Spinach around her wrist to attend parties and functions. (The snake got it’s name as it was ‘as thin as Aunt Emily and as green as spinach.’)

The Worth Award for Textiles
Awarded to Birgit Shelley for "The Time-Out Seascape"

The time-out seascape displays needle crafts in 3-d workings.

It was found by the underwater explorer and shows the peaceful coexistence between various aquatic beings.


Octopus, turtle, seahorse and crustaceans are grown to different sizes and proudly display their cheerful colours.



We're all in this together

No-one gets left behind

We'll brave all kind of weather

And nourish every mind

For yes, yes all, are equal

Deserving of our time

This life it has no sequel

But reason and a rhyme

Keep steaming and stay splendid

Take pride in all you do

As broken can be mended

For we're steampunk through and through

The Bernhardi Award for Poetry
Awarded to
Cap Nathaniel Tennyson Skirmish for his poem 'Keep Steaming'

Inspired? It's never too early to start planning for Asylum 2023!

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