George Wyllie – Scul?tor. A Celebration

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Chat
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Whys Man, or ? Man, George was a force for good: sculptor, artist, conductor of chaos and cultural and historical phenomenon. Punster and funster, with a serious side.

Was? He died in 2012. He was 90.

Centred around Glasgow and Clydebank he collaborated with the defunct ship-building industry in 1989, to use its expertise to make a statement – together they created the celebrated Paper Boat.
It was an ordinary folded paper boat, but scaled up and made sea-worthy. Along with assorted groups and interested parties the Boat was ‘launched’ with its own Paper Boat Song and choir. George was MC and choir leader.

Paper Boat Song

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The Boat represented the loss of livelihood and cultural and industrial heritage, of national sidelining and political maneuvering.
The Boat had a placement for a period on the Hudson River, New York.

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See the YouTube documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T-md22ZETQ

Another of his head-line grabbing creations was using the locomotive building industry to help build a scaled-up train engine made wholly of straw. The material was emblematic – George was well-read and savvy, an heritage of the old Scottish education system. The train was suspended from a shipyard crane. At the end of its ‘life’ it was ceremonially burned ‘liking a Viking ship burning’.

george_wyllieTrain

He counted among his friends Joseph Beuys. As a self-taught artist his focus was perhaps wider than the schooled artist. His was very much Public Art. At the heart of each piece was enigma though, mystery, the question of existence, of our legitimacy as a species. On his web page it says of him: ‘There is never a guarantee within Wyllie’s work, but only a question, notably found in the centre of all things. He carried this out in an almost metaphysical or sometimes pataphysical way.’ The 80-foot Paper Boat carried quotations from Adam Smith’s ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments.’

George Wyllie was wily enough to accept a MBE medal in 2005. He was previously a Customs and Excise Officer. It was fitting; there was no division for him. Think of Robbie Burns, also an Excise man.
Forever an entertainer and showman, he put himself forward as candidate for the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party in 2007 local elections. He was 86.
Gone too soon, George; too soon.

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He brought great gusto and humour, and scale of achievement to the overshadowed, neglected and declining central belt of Scotland, and its historic connection to the wider world. He lifted lives up and gave back a sense of fun, meaning.

http://georgewyllie.com/

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