Monday, May 25, 2020

'Last to Sea' # 9 : INSTALLED

Work continues on this year's contribution to the Elora Sculpture Project : 'Last to Sea'
Overall installation rough
On Thursday, May 21, I was assisted by Kelly Probyn-Smith of Elfworks Studios in the final installation of 'Last to Sea' at Elora. The site is to the East side of the small park in the heart of Elora, at the corner of Mill and the bridge. ( 1 )

Social Distancing measures not withstanding, my normal practice over the years has been to undertake the installation early on a weekday morning, which allows me to get a parking space close to the mounting point for ease of unloading. This year the weather was perfect, bright and sunny and at the start of our first really warm temperatures of this season.

Placing the base (KPS)
I was bit concerned at first with the base position, which was right on the edge of the pathway around the east side of the park. The diameter of the overall piece was four feet, and so it was certain to project somewhat on the admittedly very wide pathway. In terms of viewing however, this would allow for close observation into the collection - which will be seen to be important.

Placing the base stone slabs (KPS)
I had taken a reference image of the stone slabs that form the 'ocean floor' part of the piece. The 'Elkhorn' unit was by far the heaviest, and as I had when initially working out the pattern, this unit was laid first, then the other stones around this. You can see 'Abalone' and 'Unknown in the Depths' positioned here as well. These individual sculptures are fixed to their respective stone bases.

Bottom stones placed (KPS)
The last two elements that sat on the slabs, 'Sea Turtle' and 'Horseshoe Crab', were designed with a cord to allow them to be tied down to the steel gridwork underneath. You can see how the rough limestone slabs cover the majority of the base grid. I had brought a few unusual pot-marked stones that I had gathered from South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. These worked nicely into the overall pattern, covering some of the larger gaps between the irregular shaped slabs.

Top grid with plastic and all sculptural elements in place (KPS)
The next step was to mount the upper grid, which already had the bottles and foam trays attached for the 'Sea of Plastic' element. This structure was secured with tightened nuts through the four upright rods seen here.
Last was hanging the remaining two sculptural elements 'Shark' and 'Tiny Fishes'.
These last two were the most fiddly, partially because Tiny Fishes is a moving element, and it was important to make sure there would be a range of motion possible without potential tangling. (I actually expect at some point over the long installation period, these tiny fish will in fact become 'caught' into the netting!)

Applying the netting (KPS)
I had previously cut to length the nylon fish netting that surrounds the piece. In fact this net was about 15 feet top to bottom (in normal use), so I had simply cut off a four foot wide strip. Since I needed about 13 feet minimum to encircle the four foot diameter, I had already stitched the net into a tube. (You can see this line of yellow cord running down next to my body in the image.) This all means that the fishing net is actually running sideways to its normal direction in use. ( 2 )
Although not difficult, with the net secured at both top and bottom, there were a lot of knots to be tied. This part of the overall installation certainly took the longest.

Completed installation
Overall installation rough
The steps between initial inspiration even to first production layout can have a lot of twists and turns. In the case of 'Last to Sea', I think the design I originally submitted to the ESP jury was faithfully rendered in the finished work.
The main difference I note is in the proportions, the illustration shows the total height to be less, closer to three feet, where the final piece is actually 4 feet tall.
Another difference is the detailing on the 'Shark' element, where the original proposal was for a rigid, 3D construction.
You will see in the layout there had originally been two coral types, the second was replaced by the 'Unknown in the Depths' element in the final work.

with the artist (KPS)
Standing back - showing the placement
One thing that became clear, once the work was done and we had a chance to stand back.
'Last to Sea' is a large piece. From a distance, the bright green of the fishing net dominates the view, with the individual creature sculptures within mere shadows.

Through the net (KPS)
As you come closer, peering through the net allows you to see the creatures in detail.

Just what are those shapes?
Why are they included?

Next up : Commentary on the Artist's Vision

( KPS ) Images by Kelly Probyn-Smith - used with permission

( 1 ) If you plan to visit Elora, be warned that the bridge crossing the Grand at the centre of of town is closed and under construction. For access from the south Guelph or Kitchener from the south-west, you will have to loop up on County Road 7, then turn east down David Street to get to the downtown area where all the sculptures are located.

( 2 ) Hopefully any real fishers seeing the completed installation will not scoff too much at this. And most especially at the (amateurish!) knot work. As it turned out, with both of us working on the tying up, two quite different methods (neither of them likely to be correct) were in use.

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

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