John Grade | Wawona
Designed by American sculptor John Grade, Wawona
study of material decay. Grade's
work is a continuation of the architectural concept of ruin value. This concept posits that ancient Roman and Greek architecture is beautiful throughout its lifetime. From construction, to weather-beaten to ruins. These ideas have pervaded architecture for centuries. Through the Romantic period, the eighteenth century to the designs of the Bank of England. So it is with Grade's
projects, as they degrade they change and grow in aesthetic. These planned changes of appearance allow Grade
a larger palette to create meaning and context within his work. A meaning that will change as the sculpture changes.
Built from wood from the historic 1897 schooner, Wawona
is a towering monolith. It dwarfs the viewer, calling their gaze. John Grade
to preserve and honour local maritime history. Sixty-five feet and weighing more than five tons Wawona
dominates the viewer. Pitted and scarred it rises from the floor and tears the ceiling. Wawona
is comprised of two hundred panels and suggestive of both a ship hull and an old growth tree. Thus John Grade
continues the theme of time and ruin value - the life of the hypothetical enormous tree. A tree that spent decades growing immense. A tree cut down and shaped to a schooner's hull. A hull left to rot in brackish water, dry-docked, machined and fitted. Thus Wawona
was born, a return of the tree to its original form, a reference to its lifetime; a continual cycle. Yet another step in the life of the wood. Wawona
attaches to the ceiling forming an enormous pendulum that moves with the push and pull of visitors. Grade
uses this to further point to the return to cycle of the sculpture. To a cycle that despite outside influence forever returns and continues its journey.
Words | Rob Woodgate