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.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Beyond the Tree Trunk Tour: Mythical Tree

Most of the carved tree trunks in London were works commissioned for the Tree Trunk Tour, but they are not the end of the story when it comes to these kinds of carvings. Private commissions have been added to Robbin Wenzoski's portfolio in the city.

In late 2011, Robbin finished a sculpture at 147 Wychwood Place in northwest London. He calls it 'The Mythical Tree'. It is a work which pushes the boundaries of what a carved trunk can become.

There are a lot of spectacular elements incorporated into this sculpture. The all centre around a medieval fantasy theme. The most attention grabbing part is, of course, the dragon.

As always, click the photo to enlarge it. The level of detail is amazing. The neck and head of the dragon extend well away from the trunk, and every bit of it is painstakingly detailed with teeth, horns and scales.

There is green paint on the eyes for emphasis, the only colouring I could see on the whole carving. Again, the long snout and swept back horns provide a dynamic impression.

The wings have no shortage of detail either. They appear crumpled and leathery, both deeply creased from the top and the bottom.

Of course, the dragon wings aren't the only wings on the Mythical Tree. The unicorn/Pegasus at the top of the trunk also has a very elaborate pair of wings. These add on wings were done in Robbin's workshop and brought to the tree later on. The Pegasus is poised to leap into flight off the side of the tree, again a very dynamic pose.

Sharing the top of the tree with the winged horse are a pair of monsters. I'm going to call them 'demons', but I'm not sure exactly what creature they are based on. They are both nasty looking critters, one has wings, the other spines running up his back. The main trunk, as you may have noticed, has been carved in relief to appear as castle brickwork.

Around the rear of the trunk is relief carving of a wizard. He stands with a staff, inside the arch of a castle doorway.

The artists signature is that of Robbin Wenzoski, dated 2011, and located below the wizard. This logo is small letters and caps, as are all of his more recent signatures. Having just been finished and stained a few days before I took these pictures, the carving is , of course, undamaged and unweathered.

The wild subject matter, and incredible execution, of  the carving inspired me personally, I created the following two impressions in Photoshop of what kind of world this sculpture really belongs in.

I my opinion, this is the very top end of skill and imagination in the chainsaw carving technique. Whether it is to your taste or not, the bold, confident form, and mastery of technique are undeniable. If you find yourself around Sherwood Forest P.S., it is worth the little detour to find it.

Looking for more art like this? Well try these links -

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries on my blog using the London's All Inclusive Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Robbin's Links Page

Monday, 6 February 2012

Beyond The Tree Trunk Tour: Amanda's Angel

There are still about a dozen carvings left on London Tourism's Tree Trunk Tour. There were a total of 19 carved from 2006-2011, but some have been removed as the trunks have deteriorated. You can read all about them at my overview page. There are, however, other carvings, commissioned by private individuals, which would fit the criteria for being on the tour. This is my first look 'Beyond the Tour'. The carving is titled Amanda's Angel, and is located at 40 Carfrae Cres.

Amanda's Angel is one of the first sculptures of its type that I, myself, noticed in the city. It is of a female angel, crouched and unclothed, its face bowed, and wings straight up from its back. The wings are probably the most attention grabbing feature of the whole carving, they are very dramatic in their placement and wonderfully detailed.

The castle that is perched on top of the wings is also full of wonderful little details, with several little turrets and windows. There is even a stone bridge between two of the towers. And yes, that is a real woodpecker at the bottom part of the picture, I'll get to him later.

The back of the trunk has a couple of flowers with wavy petals, carved in relief. The flowers have painted stems and petals to make them stand out. I have had a chance to speak to the artist personally, and he usually doesn't like to paint his carvings. This was obviously an exception.

The naked body of the angel itself is hunched and hiding its head, as if crying. Of all the carvings I've seen, this one part has a much stronger emotional impact than any other for me. The skin texture is polished very smooth, and the emotion of the moment really comes through. It is obviously inspired by something like this.

The title of the piece is Amanda's Angel, inscribed between the wings on the front of the sculpture. Just below that is the Raw Art 07 block letter logo, which confirms this was made by Robbin Wenzoski. There is also a white cut crystal embedded in the trunk underneath that. The metal pieces above are the remains of a bracket, which attached a light to the carving.

I was able to find out a couple more bits of information about this piece. First off, it was set to be a Tree Trunk Tour carving, and then the city backed out. The owner talks about that in this documentary, starting at about the 2:22 mark. He doesn't elaborate as to the reason that Tourism London didn't sponsor it, but either the subject matter, or the cost may have made them change their minds. The second thing we learn from the video, is that the owners name is Jim Angell. It is certainly not unusual for a client to include a pun or reference to his or her own name in a commissioned work.

As with all the tree trunks I've catalogued, it isn't without its condition issues. The dark corners at the top of the castle have some fungus growing in them, and the finish on the angel itself is peeling in places. Like any wood left outdoors, a little time and care still needs to be invested every year to make sure it stays in good shape.

Now, about that woodpecker I mentioned above. I was quite lucky, and very shocked to see this little guy perched on the side of one of the wingtips. He was madly trying to tunnel into the trunk. I was no more that twenty feet away, and he was much more interested in the trunk than in me. It was a fun moment for me on my travels to all of the carved trunks, but I hope he gives up and finds a different spot to try and bore into.
Looking for more art like this? Well try these links -

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries on my blog using the London's All Inclusive Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Robbin's Links Page

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Overview: Metal Trees of the Carolinian Forest

Just the facts: An Art Installation
What: An installation of over 50 iron trees in the downtown London core. They are all painted in one of six colours, the three primary (red, blue, yellow) or three secondary (orange, green, purple). They are 14-18 feet high. Each tree has the name of the artist, year it was made, and the species of tree it is meant to represent formed out of a welded bead of metal at its base. 

Species of tree include: Hawthorn, Trembling Aspen, Silver Maple, White Ash, White Oak, Black Oak, White Pine, and Black Cherry.

Who: The London Downtown Business Association commissioned the works from Bill Hodgson, a local ironworker and artist.
When: Trees are dated 2007 and 2008, some may have been placed in 2009.

Where:  In the downtown core of London, Ontario. As far west as Ridout, and as far east as Wellington St., on sidewalks and roadway centre islands.

Why: To beautify the downtown with original artwork.

What Makes Effective Public Art?

The following posts are my thoughts on the metal trees installed in downtown London, Ontario. Each essay highlights a different aspect of the use of public funds for public art. Together I hope they give teh reader some food for thought on the different factors that need to be weighed when spending taxpayer money on projects intended to enrich the arts and culture of a community.

The short essays are, in the order that they were written:

Metal Trees, Painted Brightly

Oh Metal Tree, Is that Art I see?

A Little Shade for You and Me, Under this Iron Tree

You can take a look here at a map of all the Metal Tree locations I've documented. There is also a map of all the art I've documented in London, a list of the essays I've written on London's Tree Trunk Tour, and it's associated map, and a gallery of images for all the Trees of the Carolinian Forest I've photographed to date.