Photo: John Richardson
Katharine Harvey - Toronto, Canada
Ferris Wheel, 2013
25 - University Avenue & Dundas Street West
[ photographs ] [ video ]
“Ferris Wheel” returns to the simplest roots of the spectacle to explore how a homespun
midway attraction can convey a sense of magic and celebration. The artist conceived the biggest welded
steel formation she could physically manage herself in the backyard. Decorated with LED lights and multi-coloured
wire, two 15-foot tall spinning rings turn freely in the wind. The large circles, which move in opposite
directions, create dynamic lighting effects in endless variation. The whirligig does not accommodate
passengers but is instead an exploration of colour in motion. Easily dismantled and moved in a 12-foot
cube van, the nomadic sculpture echoes the travelling sideshow.
The earliest designs used for amusement parks may have been based on large wheels used to lift water
for irrigation. Adventurous children might have entertained themselves by riding on these water circles
when they were first developed 2200 years ago.
“Pleasure Wheels” were widely documented in the 17th century in such diverse parts of
the world as India, Persia, Constantinople, Bulgaria, and England. Fairgrounds continue to capture the
imagination of many different cultural communities as they gather to celebrate with displays of fantastical
Shows include: Nicholas Metivier Gallery (Toronto), Galerie Borchardt (Hamburg), Skulpturenprojekt
(Stade, Germany), Bank of America (Los Angeles), World Financial Center (New York), Monterey Bay Aquarium
(California), Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Brookfield Place (Toronto). This project was funded by
the Ontario Arts Council.