Art For Everyone : Public Art Installations

Read about the whole point of "Looking Around London" at this link here.

Get started with my pictures and thoughts on the London Tree Trunk Tour here.

The Tree Trunk Tour is going to be on Hamilton Road, and I'm blogging its creation here.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Western Fair

On the south side of Dundas St, East of the end on King St. is 'Western Fair' a large and complex carving that is an official stop on London's Tree Trunk Tour. The sculpture is a trunk that was carved on site, in Queens Park, which is on the northmost edge of the Western Fair District, an entertainment zone located east of the downtown core in London.

This trunk incorporates many of the ideas that the fair involves itself with, both past and present. Let's break them down one by one.

First up is our country singer, perched on the edge of one of the original branches of this tree trunk. He has a very realistic guitar and microphone, and his feet are staggered as he steps towards the mic. This part of the carving is a standout from any angle, but as pictured, he balances out the title of the piece nicely.

The very top of the sculpture is a Ferris wheel, perched atop where fireworks have been carved in relief. The wheel looks tiny, as is is easily over 25 feet in the air. This is certainly the tallest carving that has been completed on the tour so far. You can also see the tracks of a roller coaster winding itself all around the carving.

The carving's cars represent the miniature cars of the Mouse roller coaster that stood on the Western Fair Grounds from 1959 to 2006.

Each car was carved separately, then tacked on, but I find them one of the more endearing elements of the piece.

There are quite a few animals represented, as the Western Fair District was originally an association that ran an annual agricultural fair on the property. The Western Fair has shifted its focus over the last 140 years, but we still have a large pig's torso rising out of the side of the trunk. Behind him are the 4 suits of a deck of cards, representing the gambling facilities now attached to the racetrack, though there are no live card games that can be played, only slots and video poker.

Around the side of the trunk from the pig, are a chicken and duck. They appear to be leaping outward from the middle of the tree. Much of this sculpture seems to be in motion, and the overall effect is certainly to infuse a kind of wacky or fun feeling into the piece. The Western Fair is about fun and activity, so it suits its location well.

Down below the other elements is a very realistic horse's head. This was also carved separately in a workshop and added later. It has a very smooth surface finish, and lots of detail in the mane. The eyes are also inserts of either plastic or glass. The Western Fair Raceway has been London's only site for live harness racing for over 100 years, and has held night racing since 1961.

There is a simple block text dedication which indicates that the commission for the piece was done in honour of the Fair's 140th anniversary.

The other things I look at on every piece are the signature, and any obvious condition issues. This is another Robbin Wenzoski carving. He did the vast majority of the 14 tree trunks done between 2006 and 2009. This is a block letter version of the RaW ART logo.

There are definitely age related cracks up and down the trunk, though the overall condition appears to be good. The delicately carved Ferris wheel on the top has a problem, though. One of its supports has snapped, and the wheels leans at a definite angle, making it look like an extreme version of the ride. Its tough to say if the wind and snow did the damage, or if something was throw at it intentionally.
One of the reasons I am trying keep a record of this work, is because I think it has real value to a community. These kinds of installations tell us instantly where we, Londoners, are in the world, that there is no place that is exactly like our home. Something creative and beautiful in our community, it can become a way to identify with where we live for all the right reasons.
The other reason I like doing this is because I can come away with memories of moments like this one....
Click it for the full sized picture, as always.

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