Tuesday, January 08, 2019

'Last to See' - Elora Sculpture Project # 1

I have been very pleased to have had works chosen for inclusion in the Elora Sculpture Project each year since 2013. This is one of the two designs submitted for 2019.

'Last to See'

Life on Earth has been throttled by a series of ‘Mass Extinction’ events. The fossil record indicates six major times the slate of animal life has virtually been wiped clean :
2.4 Billion years ago - ‘Great Oxidation Event’ = 99+ %
440 Million years ago - Ordovician / Silurian = 86 %
365 Million years ago - Late Devonian = 75 %
250 Million years ago - Permian / Triassic = 96 %
200 Million years ago - Triassic / Jurassic = 76 %
65 Million years ago - Cretaceous / Palaeocene = 75 %

And now the current, human generated - Holocene = 80 % (and rising!)

‘Last to See’ represents these events through a stack of stone slabs, (concrete, each roughly 30 x 60 cm x 7 cm thick). Embedded in each are forged steel ‘fossils’ - shapes suggestive of the creatures most significantly died off in each individual event. Individual slabs are roughly proportional to the percentage of species lost. Moving from top downwards, the slabs gradually tilt ever flatter, suggesting geological compression.
The bottom (ground) level consists of a set of small, irregular sized natural limestone blocks, set in a circle about 100 cm diameter. Between these (and covering the mounting base) is spread a layer of black sand, with a scattering of rusted metal fragment ’dust’. Taken together this symbolizes the ‘Great Oxidation Event’, when earlier anaerobic  bacteria was virtually eliminated by oxygen using and producing types we know today.
The top most slab has imbedded in it plastic figures of ‘modern’ wild animals, types either recently eliminated, or close to extinction. Mounted to the top of this slab is a life-sized human hand, pushing downwards.

This piece can be considered an outgrowth of my ‘Hallucigenia’ series (sculptures based on the Burgess Shale).
I had also had created a number of smaller plaques using the technique of mounting forged pieces into cast concrete mix.
One of the 'Mecha' series - 2015
This submission is more of a ‘concept’, than a final illustration of the specific slabs. A large number of individual forged elements will need to be made, then positioned / modified to best fit inside the frames of the individual slabs. These forged elements will be left ‘rough forged’ - both to preserve textures and to allow them to naturally rust over time (again, suggestive of fossils and the effects of time).


Because a fairly rigid support frame will be necessary to hold the individual slabs (each about 30 kg), this work has a specific viewing orientation. (Unlike most of my earlier contributions, which were fully 360 degree viewing.) The main structural frame will be of welded 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 3/16 angle, with secondary support members of 1 x 1 x 1/8. Individual slabs will both be supported from underneath and bolted from the back to the supporting framework.
The ground under the stone blocks will be covered with standard landscape cloth, to prevent any plant growth into the sand spacing. This will also assist in ease of dismantling the sculpture. Note however that because of this ground layer, any grass in this area is sure to be effected.
It is hoped that these two factors will be taken into account when considering placement.
The total height would be about 180 cm, width of the main sculpture about 60 cm, with the stone base circle about 100 cm.
The frame would comprise the major sized element to transport to the installation area, but not overly heavy (a bit awkward, but can be carried by one person). Individual slabs are moved separately, then bolted to the frame after the frame is attached to the existing ground mount.

This is the concept I certainly put the most background research into. Visually, it is far more static than my recent submissions, and may prove a bit to 'dense' for the average viewer? Much of the effect will rely on the many forged 'fossil' pieces, details yet to be determined.  The intent here is to make pieces suggested of the dominant species extinction within each of the 'events' - Trillobites for the Ordovician / Silurian slab for example.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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