Archives for posts with tag: gallery

Another great sunny day means everyone wears sun tan lotion whilst working on getting the crank completed and moving.

The crank test (see video below) proves the movement will work so construction of the fish body, head and tail begins.


Grassroots 290312 fish moves a video by arbarus on Flickr.

The body section are made from twisted bike wheels of varying sizes, cut and reformed into ellipses. The upper head is formed from two more wheel and we hatch a cunning plan to create an animated jaw using a brake mechanism but leave this job for the next session as we’re expecting more young artists to join us.

The elegantly shaped front frame of a mountain bike marked X Trail – Special Bike seems an obvious choice for the fishes tail – joining it using front forks from another bike allowing it to pivot proves tricky but worth the extra effort.

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Another amazing spring day with the weather feeling like summer combined with some new assistant artists meant that our creation moved on apace.

The frame we constructed last week was reinforced with more bed frame parts and the laborious task of fitting eight pedals between the spindles of five bike wheel took a good part of the morning.

After lunch the wheels and pedals were fitted to the reinforcing bars on the frame and the central crank that will power the fish finally came together. Great to see our vision come together and everyone was thrilled to see that the creation might just work!

Upright bars were prepared and T-sections cut from the bed rails to provide pivots and support for the fishes body sections – a kit of parts ready to assemble next session.

Two small scooters were fixed by their handle bars to the front and back of the frame to provide pivots and supports for the fishes head and tail.

The day finished with a real sense of achievement and we’re all looking forward to thursday and getting the body, head and tail added to the sculpture.

The second session at Grassroots was on tuesday 20th march and unfortunately some participants were unable to make it.

Darren suggested that we start work on our fish sculpture and we spent the morning planning how it might work. We wanted to use some of the bike wheels we’d ‘rescued’ as the basis of our mechanism as they are easy to work with, are light weight and have strong and reliable bearings.

We imagined the fish would move like a ‘Chinese Dragon’ puppet with it’s body constructed from a series of rings supported on rods linked to a drive mechanism. We came up with 2 options for using the wheels to drive the movement: horizontal wheels driving from the rim or vertical wheels supporting a crankshaft.

The rest of the day was taken up with the delicate task of constructing working maquettes to test our ideas with valuable assistance from Antony.

We discovered that the horizontal wheels system was easier to make but the motion they imparted to the body was not ‘fishy’ enough, the vertical wheels and crank was harder to construct but the movement was perfect!

A plan of action for our sculpture was slowly taking shape and our next move would be to start actual construction.

The switch was thrown (on a power-pack/transformer reclaimed from a discarded PC) and the machine lurched into life. It worked!

The crank slowly rotated pulling the strings and the flagpoles lifted and fell; applause and cheers from participants and observers alike!

Sadly the three youngest artists had to leave but all agreed they’d had a fun, challenging and unusual afternoon and were excited to have created such an strange work of art.

Luckily a number of onlookers stepped forward to get involved so we decided to add decoration in the form of origami cranes and flowers that some very young artists had created to the machine. A group of teenagers were also keen to get involved and I suggested that as the machine was now decorated and looked great the next addition would be something to make noise.

Using string we attached the lids of three damaged ‘moka’ coffee pots to make a clapping sound as the flags waved, we borrowed some cutlery from the gallery cafe and tied this to the flag poles too. The machine was switched on again and rotated a few times clattering and clapping. Unfortunately we’d all got slightly carried away with these noise making additions and the cutlery proved too heavy for the long flag poles, the string became tangled and the machine stopped.

After a careful minutes work untangling and untying the machine was ready to go again, slightly lopsided and with a pronounced ‘limp’ the machine proceeded to slowly rotate and the coffee pots clapped again.

All in all the first ‘Salvage!’ workshop was a real success, great fun and we proved that interesting and unusual kinetic art can be created in a few hours by a team of collaborating artists of all ages.

It certainly left me inspired and looking forward to starting some more involved creations as the project continues…


Gallery Oldham Workshop Feb 12th 2012 a video by arbarus on Flickr.