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Purple Martin


Sculpture Concept:

“The swallow  represents the flight path of the bird as it feeds in the evening light. The inspiration came from the ‘nesting box’ program initiated by the Ministry of the Environment located adjacent to the site. Being a kinetic wind activated sculpture this piece also contains a metaphor of continual change. So building this piece has been a risky process… just about as risky as the flight of the insect which is about to become swallow’s dinner.”

“It’s a continuously moving wind activated coiled spring… clearly the metaphor embraces the risks involved in simply being alive, even if you’re a bug… there is no certainty and its difficult to draw a bead on a moving target… that’s why everything I build moves in some way. “ – Doug Taylor

Sounds like a fairly docile and uncomplicated concept, but in reality turned out to be a treacherous piece to build. I had one engineer run screaming from the room when he first saw the model and  another chicken out after doing preliminary work. I needed to build not only the initial model but also a 1/4 scaled up version 8 ft tall which I then subjected to 70 mile per hour wind force, video documenting the process and finally had Bacon Donaldson Engineers do extensive strain guage tests to determine strength of the model. A green light was then given to build the full size piece.

Purple Martin is a beautiful songbird, the largest North American swallow and the only species of martins on this continent. While spending a portion of every year in the backyards of those who are devoted to it, this steely and iridescent blue-black bird also spends its winters in the Amazon River basin and as far south as the São Paulo State in Brazil. Each spring, flying on the southern edge of warm weather advancement, Purple Martins faithfully return to the backyards of their landlords (the people who put up martin housing) in North America for their breeding





March 11, 2002