Fire breathing dragon in Lower Clapton

In a small, dark workshop in deepest Lower Clapton lurks a strange fire-breathing creature. It moves and makes sounds like any animal – but this one is made of metal.

Rusty the robotic horse is the work of Stoke Newington dad Paka Collins.

When Paka’s grandmother and aunt died eight years ago, he inherited two wheelchairs – and now he has given them a new lease of life. The kinetic sculptor, 45, of Leswin Road, has made three life-size horses and a huge dragon from scrap metal and engine parts in his Tilia Road workshop.

He has performed with them all over Britain and Europe – including at the Glastonbury Festival and Stoke Newington’s Lollibop in Clissold Park earlier this year.

“I have been working for 15 years towards acting onstage with mechanical creatures that are credible,” said the dad-of-one who goes by the name of Paka the Uncredible.

Paka began creating sculptures from found objects at the age of 15, just a few years after recovering from leukaemia.

He left his London home in his late teens to travel in Europe. Driving to Spain took him a year and by the time he arrived, he had rebuilt his entire car engine. There he worked as a street performer.

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Paka’s acts draws on his past, as he paints his face white and plays an old man.

“When my grandmother was dying, she was going in and out of fantasy. I have always had a fascination with final things. My theatre explores memory, loss and end of life.”