Tuesday, July 05, 2022

'Wave Action' - at Paisley ONT

Location : Paisley Ontario (lower Bruce County)

Queen Street, on the east side, just before Church Street (that's on the north side of the bridge in the centre of town.

Wave Action is a joint project of Kelly Probyn-Smith of Elfworks Studios and myself. It was the first of two sculptures chosen to initiate a new Paisley Sculpture Project, under the Paisley Artscape Society . This is a new work, created specifically for the PSP, and is the first major public art project by Kelly.

The original concept was drafted in conversation with Kelly in fall of 2020, who conceived of a human powered kinetic sculpture, inspired after watching 'Mechanical Marvels - Clockwork Dreams' a 2013 BBC 4 program hosted by Simon Schaffer. She was particularly taken by a specific automata, which included twisted flat bars of glass that rotated to suggest flowing water. 

This project has been some time in the waiting, our original proposal had been tentatively accepted in early 2021, but providing for the required stone block mounting bases took over a year to organize. 

Kelly had imagined a series of flying birds, swimming ducks and leaping fish. These figures were pewter, cast into a series of soapstone molds she carved, then individually painted. 

The last elements were groupings of small plants, each element individually hand forged and collectively making clumps of reeds and grasses set along the river bank. She was influenced here by the work of another artist who was also undertaking a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, during our own time there in 2017

One last larger element was the inclusion of a human figure paddling a canoe (a common activity heading down the Saugeen River from Paisley).

The clip above shows the sculpture in action, with the wheel on the front rotating the set of birds and fish. Simple T handles on either end rotate the twisted bars making up the waves. A simple push / pull lever activates the paddler. 


My contribution here was building the frame and figuring the mechanicals (and the final spray colours on the sides of the main box structure). 

Originally the plan was to use a recycled bicycle main peddle crank for the handle. When the  four by four foot size of the stone mounting block was later established, it was clear that the crank would have to be extended well past the front of the main box, and I was concerned too much torque would be applied if a crank was employed. Fortunately, in the pile of scrounged parts I found a small rubber tired wheel - ideal for use as a means of applying the required motion. Inside the frame a pair of bicycle gear clusters are chain driven off a central main sprocket (other than the chains, all scrounged at the local dump). This cobbled together provides the rotating movement for the diving figures. 

Wave Action will remain in place on the street at Paisley until mid October. 

Come take it for a spin!

I would like to personally thank and recognize EPCOR Utilities, through it's representative : General Manager Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel. EPCOR provided funding for the purchase of the elegant cut and dressed stone mounting block seen in the images.

Video of Wave Action in motion shot by Kelly.

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

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