AS we begin to take our first, tentative steps out of lockdown, all manner of works that fell victim to coronavirus restrictions are now being brought out of mothballs.

One of the most intriguing projects is Restless Worlds, a self-defined “kinetic sculpture artwalk” that was held over from the 2021 edition of the annual Manipulate Festival of puppetry, visual theatre and animated film.

The pandemic has had a nasty habit of dashing hopes, and so it was with the desire of Manipulate to bring Restless Worlds to the streets of Scottish cities back in January and February. Now, however, like a vaccinated quintagenarian venturing into a beer garden, this diverse set of animated installations has been dusted down and placed before the public.

The first showing, in the windows at the front of the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh (where it has already ended), was more of an exhibition than an “artwalk”. However, perambulations from one art work to the next are promised for Aberdeen (until May 16) and Glasgow (May 19-24).

READ MORE: Artist’s eight-year battle with Scottish Water cost £9000

The original idea of the project was to present “puppets”, in the widest definition (i.e. moving objects), in a manner suited to the age of Covid-enforced physical distancing. Kinetic sculptures – as lovers of the famous Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre are well aware – are, in essence, puppets without puppeteers.

They move, typically, by their own mechanical volition (as with the Sharmanka sculptures) or with electronic assistance. In the case of Restless Worlds, they come with soundtracks that play via an app through your smartphone (so, be sure to take headphones).

A number of the pieces on display address themselves directly to the public health crisis. Guy Bishop’s The Diktat Sythesizer is a particularly delicious commentary on the politics of the pandemic.

The titular “synthesizer” is a machine that generates the many coronavirus pronouncements of our leaders by means of good old-fashioned, mechanical wheel power. However, look to the right-hand side of the contraption and you will find that a grey, humanoid figure is also being animated by the wheel. It is unable to do anything other than bang its head against the wall.

Jessica Innes’s Mr Holdcroft is a beautifully constructed living room that hosts a charming, short animated film about the elderly man of the title. All-in-all it is a delightful take on the subject of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens, an issue that has, like so many other problems, been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Samuel Watterworth’s Here. We’re Not is not so much a kinetic sculpture as a live animation (or, perhaps, distortion). As one looks at a large screen, one sees oneself altered as in an electronic hall of mirrors.

Combined with a soundtrack comprised of audio taken from various radio frequencies, the piece is, paradoxically, a fabulously abstract-yet-precise evocation of the strangeness of lockdown.

There is subtle humour and humanism in Still Life with Willow Pattern by Shona Reppe and Tamlin Wiltshire, which is inspired by Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing objects with gold lacquer.

READ MORE: Dominic Hill’s The Macbeths makes the transition from stage to screen

The only disappointment, on the day that I visited the work in Edinburgh, was that the most visually beautiful of the installations, Apple Eaters by Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre and novelist Heather Parry, wasn’t operating.

The piece is constructed, typically of Sharmanka, from a combination of marvellously expressive human and animal figures, which have been carved exquisitely from wood, and various metal, mechanical objects.

Not to see this visual poem on the fragility of human experience come alive, as if by magic, was almost a metaphor for the false dawns we have endured throughout the pandemic.

For performance details and tickets, visit