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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Acadia School Presentation to Room 22

I am looking forward to meeting the students of room 22 at Acadia School in Calgary tomorrow. I am honoured to be invited to present to their class.

Thank you for this opportunity to share with you.



Kinetic Sculpture for TELUS World of Science, Calgary

Update on the Kinetic Sculpture for
The TELUS World of Science, Calgary

The Junk Yard where I found the Massey Harris Tractor for the Kinetic Sculpture

My name is Geoff Sandhurst, and I am a full time metal sculptor. I have been passionate about working with found and formed metal since I first experienced welding at Speedy Muffler King as a muffler installer in 1982 when I was 17 years old. I find it interesting to learn how people started in careers. It can be an intentional path, like my sister-in-law. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a scientist and she maintained a pretty consistent career path to become one. Sometimes, people are born into families that run their own business and have the opportunity to continue within it. It can be a career path started in the education system, as one experiences different options, or core subjects that are of interest. It can be a role model or a mentor that encourages someone in a direction. It can be a chance encounter that sparks an interest that was previously unimagined. That’s what happened to me. I always loved art, but didn’t have the opportunity to take art in high school. I think I would be an artist working in wood, if I had found a job as a cabinet maker, or an artist working with paper, if I had worked at a photocopying store. I feel driven to create and use what I know or what resources I have available, or experiment to try to do something new. I was exposed to metal work in my job, so I am a metal artist.

I ‘m honoured and excited to be contracted to create this kinetic sculpture for the TELUS World of Science, Calgary. The project developed through conversations about an interactive sculpture demonstrating the use gears and pulleys. The theme of the tractor was suggested as a man-made creation that has an impact on nature to tie in to the “Mindscapes’ area at the Creative Kids Museum at the TELUS World of Science, Calgary. This man made creation was given a twist – it was to transform into something else to show how man can interact with machines to cause change. Man’s impact can develop into something new, interesting, and helpful. It can also be terrifying and the impact not known for years to come.

I started the development of the kinetic sculpture with many sketches, taking the ideas discussed at the meetings and combining them in a variety of ways until the ideas started to gel together. I researched different gears and pulleys and looked at the work of other kinetic sculptors and found some amazing websites on the internet:

I recommend checking out following websites that I came across in my research:

Boston Museum of Science, The Clark Collection of Mechanical Movement Models

Theo Jansen, Kinetic Sculptor -

Arthur Ganson, Kinetic Sculptor -

The next stage was to create a small scale model of the sculpture. I first made one to work out the general movement of the artwork. Then I intended to create a full working model of the kinetic sculpture. After trying to source metal gears and pulleys to create a working model, I realized that it was not realistic to create a full working model. It was time consuming and was resulting in a model that would not be able to be replicated in large scale. The same types of gears were not necessarily readily available or cost effective when going from small scale to large scale. It was time to move into creating the actual sculpture.

1st maquette to work out movement of artwork.

Incompleted 2nd maquette with some working gears. My Daugher Kierra is turning the gears.

The sculpture has 3 main parts:

1. There is the gear box that drives the entire sculpture. It is to be encased in clear plastic so that everyone can see and experience how turning the valve with human power, drives the gears that move the sculpture.

2. The framework of the sculpture rises from the gearbox and attaches to the ceiling beams. It supports the kinetic artwork as well as allowing the movement of the sculpture.

3. The kinetic sculpture is the third component and the most challenging. It is made from found tractor parts and purchased new and used mechanical parts.

The Gear Box: The gear box phase is ongoing. I have sourced and received most of the gears for the gearbox. I am not satisfied with the size of the beveled gears that are the first gears to be driven by human power. I want something with more visual impact. I am looking for a crown and pinion now from a large truck or tractor. This is a photo of the sketch of the gear box on my drafting table.

I have started gathering parts for the artwork of the Kinetic Sculpture. Because I am working with found parts, I have to be creative and take the opportunity to purchase it while I can. I can’t go back and buy it later – it will be crushed or shipped elsewhere, like China! I have picked up lots of interesting items. Here are some of the parts I have found so far using a Massey Harris Tractor:

My daughter, Kierra’s, school is working with the students discussing “Legacy”. I have been thinking about what Legacy means to me. My great grandfather was an inventor with patents registered to his name. Both of my grandfathers were artists. One worked in wood and one drew in pen and ink. My father was also an artist drawing in pencil. My son, Caelin, is taking art classes on Wednesday evenings and I wonder – would he be doing this if I wasn’t an artist? Is he compelled to create as I am? Will he continue on as a professional artist, or just dabble with art as an adult? I don’t have the answers, but I do see a family history of artists standing behind my daughter and son. I imagine this older generations watching over the shoulders of these two young artists as they create.

I recently saw a video by Dewitt Jones, a photographer for National Geographic, . He talked about acting “as if”, when we think that we are not interested, do not care, or feel that something is beyond our abilities. I found this very empowering. I often work “as if”. I go on the internet and act “as if” I am a researcher. When I start with my first google search, or library visit, I often don’t’ know exactly who, what, where I am looking for. But I continue, acting “as if” I know how to find the information that I need. I learn more and more with each search on the internet and discussion with the librarians until I find what I am looking for.

When I am building a sculpture I act “as if” I am an artist. I don’t feel that I am one. An artist to me is Salvador Dali or Leonardo da Vinci. I act “as if” I know what I am making. I have an idea, but I don’t know if I will be able to find the parts, or have the time I need to make the parts. Many times my initial drawings come close to the sculpture, but sometimes the sculpture evolves into something completely different.

This kinetic sculpture is challenging, interesting and fun. I am looking forward to keeping you updated on its progress. You can subscribe to updates on my blog at

Geoff Sandhurst

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The search for Gears

I have been looking for bevelled gears 15-20" diameter for a large kinetic sculpture for the last couple of months. It's been a challenge. I have tried a number of local scrap yards, gear suppliers, repair shops, with no luck. I am now following some leads from contact at the CR4 The Engineer's Place,

Thank you to all the people that responded to my inquiry for gears. I am pursuing their leads and have appreciated connecting with their group.

I work in isolation in my studio, and I am finding the internet an amazing way to feel connected in the world wide community.

If anyone in the Calgary area has gears of this diameter please email me!

Thank you,