Thursday, May 21, 2020

'Last to Sea' # 7 - Shark

Work continues on this year's contribution to the Elora Sculpture Project : 'Last to Sea'

Overall installation rough
b) Sharks - represented by a larger sculpture ( about 3 feet), made of a series of formed and welded pieces. I was surprised to find so many shark species Endangered (including amazingly the Great White!). Modern types unchanged 200 million years, through 2 Extinction Events.

When I started researching sea creatures to populate this overall collection, the inclusion of sharks on the Endangered list was an absolute shock.
You have got to be kidding me, right?
"... estimations state that about 100 species out of 470 that exist in the world, are in a status of imminent danger to severe..."
"...20 are in danger of extinction..."
from Shark's World
Look, we all know sharks threaten us - not that we threaten them. Is there anything that evokes a more primordial fear than a shark? 
the Great White Shark - with no natural predator (other than humans), is considered 'vulnerable'
I had originally envisioned making a more three dimensional depiction of this animal. composed of a number of dished plates. I had tinkered with ideas for allowing for some articulation as well. These combined into designs that were becoming very complex - easily as much time to produce as the entire rest of the collection put together.
In the end a combination of collapsing available time, and a desire to put potential movement over complexity caused me to simplify the construction.

the Ganges River Shark - on the Critically Endangered list

I had started work using the image of the Ganges River Shark as my reference.
This was going to be the physically largest of the collection, intended to be about 26 inches long. (Life size is up to 70 - 80 inches.) I decided to make up the profile from a set of five individual cut out sections. As I laid these out (drawing free hand) I ended up with a total length closer to 36 inches.
You can see the completed body shape ended up thicker through than the actual Ganges Shark, really more resembling the Great White.
Again torch cut from 1/8 steel plate, the contours were smoothed off with grinding. I deliberately make the cuts inside the mouth especially jagged to suggest the teeth. Here the rough edges from the torch work were hammered flat.
The dividing lines between the sections were cut straight. Articulation was produced by adding a strip of heavy leather on either side, supported by pieces of 3/4 steel flat bar, each set riveted into place.
The two projecting front lower fins were illustrated by welding on a second fin piece, then both fins bent out from the line of the body.

Seen as profile

I had placed a number of holes along the upper edge of the body, as possible attachment points for mounting the completed shark into the installation. Because of the length, to be set inside the total four foot diameter, it would be necessary to use two hanging points, rather than hanging balanced from a single single line.
As you can see in the image above, one support was from the tip of the top fin, the second back towards the rear. This would leave the head and the two rear sections free to move on the leather hinges. Use of two mounts also allowed the body to be set on a more dynamic upwards line.

Seen from the head end, about 90 degrees from the first image
The way the weight would hang from the chosen support points also meant that the body would cant to an angle off the vertical. You can see from this second image the potential to have the body in a fairly life like curved posture.
The use of the heavy plates means that there will not be a lot of motion created by wind force, but there will be some.

The colours seen are the 'tempering' effect caused by the heat of the cutting torch. These are caused by thin surface oxidation, and will fairly quickly disappear as the raw steel starts to rust on exposure to the elements.

Next up : Awash in a Sea of Plastic

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

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