In 2015 John Davenport had the thought that the ‘hollow face’ optical illusion could be used to help promote Davenports magic museum. The prototypes were based on a rabbit in a hat which apparently turned to face you as you moved around it. Despite various options being trialled and some design work by Robin Krats in England, the idea was not taken forward. This item shows the development of John’s idea.

In 2015 the bare mechanism of this electrically operated window figure was found in a Davenport store in very bad condition. The figure turned its head from side to side and raised and lowered its arms. In 2016 a Cambridge magician and family friend, Tony Middleton, had the vision to strip it down and re-engineer the figure, to convert it into a Chinese magician performing a magic trick. With the help of John Davenport, the figure now levitates a Chinese lantern up and down in the air, passing a ring over it to show there is nothing but magic holding the lantern suspended. Tony christened the magician Chung Ling Soo from the outset. The figure has been on display in the family’s magic museum in Norfolk, England. One of the photographs here shows Roy Davenport on the left and Tony Middleton on the right.

As you walk past the head it turns to follow you. John & Anne Davenport in 2012 commissioned Josie Camus in Cambridge to make this as a gift for Roy & Anne Davenport. Its purpose was to mark the opening of Davenports Magic Kingdom in 2013. It was given to Roy & Anne on 18 Dec 2012.