Monday, December 10, 2012

Machell's Commons - Public Art on a Private Fence: Pt 2

I've been telling you about the fence project that I was commissioned to create based on the concept given to me by my client Klaus.

(follow this link for the previous fence-related post public-artwork-on-private-fence-pt-1.html )

Klaus' letter to the editor concerning the fence was published this week in the Dec. 4th issue of The Auroran, the local paper..
 A local high school student, Laurel Cook,  decided to make a 10min documentary for her film class about the fence as well. I was interviewed in my studio last week for it. Her due date is Dec 17th so I hope to see the results soon.

The project began in May 2012 and we installed the completed figures on November 13th, 2012. It was very cold. We even had a few snowflakes and then a bit of rain, but we were anxious to complete the project.

To briefly recap, I drew characters for the fence, creating life-size templates for them out of paper which Klaus took and used as his guide to cut the shapes out of wood. Once cut, with the edges sanded, they came back to me for priming on  both sides and then painting into their final colour. In addition I had washers to paint in rustproofing primer, two sides, and the heads of bolts to paint to match the characters so when they were inserted into their body they would not be visible. As an added visual treat, Klaus requested I paint about 30 washers in a bright colour so when he saw the fence from the house he'd see bright dots on his fence since the whole installation is not on the interior of the fence but on the exterior, overlooking a local public park and tennis club.

getting ready to install the characters on the fence
all present and accounted for
To install we drilled strategically placed holes (never in the face/head!)
hole in arm ok

who could drill into this face?!
Klaus then went inside the fence, to his property, while I stayed on the outside facing the public space. I inserted the matching bolt, added a rustproofed washer and then we fed the bolt though the fence slats where Klaus had a brightly painted washer to thread onto the bolt and then he added a nut and tightened the whole thing up.

Klaus did this freehand drilling that freaked me out a bit

but it looked like he'd done this kind of thing a lot, so I stopped worrying

It took a few hours, especially as people stopped by to talk to us about what we were doing. Most times I made them work a bit too: holding things up so I could step back to see the composition

as well as helping me pass tools back and forth to Klaus over the fence.
Klaus and his trusty wrench

Slowly it came together until it was finished. Three animals weren't included in the final layout this time round: the earthworm, the snail and the porcupine. We plan to change it up in the spring.

Once done, I headed to the backside of the installation and touched up the backs of the animals that peeped over the fence. Several figures are double-sided so Klaus and his wife can enjoy them from their windows.

back of chorusline birds
painted washers
 As well, his idea to paint the washers was brilliant! I LOVE the coloured dots here and there. I think there is a future art project to be done with the washers only.

What is missing are the two thought bubbles and the one word bubble. In time, these characters will be expressing themselves. Klaus is considering what he wants to say/what they could say.

For now, he is content to have only the name of the piece there. It is called Machell's Commons. This is a take of the original name for the town of Aurora, where this artwork lives. It was called Machell's Corner. The fence depicts a gathering area, or commons, when there was not as much development and more wildlife. The joy of spaces and the joy of nature. When the natural environment was more stimulating and interesting.
Machell's Commons  20' x 6' fence with painted wood figures
with Klaus Wehrenberg and Katie Argyle


3 comments:

Jessica said...

Finally I get to see this outrageous installation. What an outrageous idea! Love it!

tim said...

Bravo Katie and Klaus for taking a bold step in livening up the neighbourhood. The future looks bright for outdoor art in Aurora!

PVC / Plastic Fence said...

Hi good looking project you have. The fence is looking nice with all the animals installed. We install fences too and work in this kind of project. Great job!