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Focus Story | January 2015

Junk to funk!

American sculptor Christopher Fennell uses junk to create sculptural masterpieces.
Internationally acclaimed sculptor, Christopher Fennell is known for placing recognisable objects into organic forms - like a wave of 60 canoes, a ball of 600 baseball bats or a tornado of 120 bicycles. Best known for creating a bus station out of an old discarded bus, this man is a genius with junk.

Growing up in Florida, Fennell started off with construction work, before enrolling himself for an engineering degree at University of South Florida. He joined Motorola Inc. in robotics and later joined British Aerospace where he designed flight simulators in Tampa, Florida. While working with existing components for his designing creativity, he yearned to create something out-of-the-box.

Creative brainwave
He went back to school and earned a master´s degree in fine arts from the University of Georgia. One of his professors asked him to tear down an old barn, and that´s what inspired Fennell to build his first colossal sculpture. "I saw the barn falling down, and then the idea came to build a wave," Fennell said. Since then using discarded objects to create sculpture has become his theme.

Some of his acclaimed works include a fireball sculpture using decommissioned aluminum fire ladders for a fire station near Dallas, tree sunscreens and leaf inspired benches made from donated used skateboard decks for a skate park in Norfolk and a 63-feet long steel guitar using 44 salvaged truck frames at the band shell where Elvis played his first concert in Memphis.

Currently, he is working with basketball backboards in North Carolina, car doors in New Mexico and 4000´ of salvaged pipe in Arizona.

Boat Fish
Four reclaimed aluminum boats, joined together and shaped to give the impression of a fish swimming in water is installed in Sarasota, Florida.

Skate Trees
Three benches made of used skate boards with steel pipes bent into the shape of leaves, this project is located in Norfolk, Virginia. Two trees with 200 aluminum skate board leaves spray painted by the skaters is fashioned into a tree sunscreen.

Canoe Wave
Commissioned by the Idaho Department of Transportation, the Canoe Wave is a monument for Lewis and Clark on the bank of the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho. Made with 60 used aluminum canoes welded together in the shape of a wave, each canoe is unique and shows scars of its past life upon the river.

Bus Shelter
Three old school buses welded together to resemble a bus that´s pulling in and out of a bus stop. This bus stop shelter was commissioned by Athens Area Art Council and is located at the intersection of Alps and West Broad in front of Applebee´s at Athens in Georgia.

Shovel Gateway
The north entrance to the University´s Arboretum at Davis, California, shows off this gorgeous sculpture created with 440 shovels from the community and welded together into an arch.

In conversation with Christopher Fennell...


What inspires your work?
Ordinary objects from the past and doing the incredible...


Why did you choose to work with recycled products?
Things that have scars from the past are powerful. Objects that we recognise are like powerful words in a visual sentence. Take the bicycle from your childhood and raise it up in a tornado of 120 bicycles, and you have a glimpse of your first day of school.

What are the challenges you face in the process?
Gravity!

Which in your opinion is your most creative work?
The bus stop shelter made out of school buses gets noticed the most, so it must be my most creative work. 


What is your dream project?
Building the man they burn at the end of the Burning Man festival in Nevada!

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