Thursday, 23 October 2008

Making a statement: Humpback Gunship (Sculpture By The Sea 4)

Humpback Gunship by Benjamin Gilbert.

The artist is quoted in The Australian newspaper (October 15, 2008):
"Yes, it's for children..... "Too much sculpture takes itself too seriously."
However, behind the whale's friendly appearance is a serious message: the body will be filled with "100 per cent pure Tasmanian woodchips".

"They're usually shipped off to Japan," said Gilbert.

I was really interested to discover that Ben Gilbert is renowned as an ice sculptor - something that there's not a lot of , well any really, in Australia! And that he likes people to touch and experience his work; no "Do Not Touch" signs near this work!

Here's more about the artist and his work:

"To prepare his stainless-steel humpback whale for curious fingers, Benjamin Gilbert carefully smoothed away its sharp edges.

Inside the whale's hollow stomach he placed canvas cushions for people to sit on. "I believe art is only valuable when it is used," he says.

"There's no point in having something precious locked away."

Once a campaigner with Greenpeace, Gilbert hopes the interactive nature of his work will help people understand its anti-whaling message. With a propeller extending from its water spout and wheels below its chin and tail, the whale resembles a small gunship.

"The bone structure of the humpback whale has fascinated Japanese scientists for generations," he says. "Perhaps they're really using the whales to make military hardware.

"It's a ridiculous sculpture about the ridiculousness of Japanese whaling." (Sydney Morning Herald, October 16, 2008)

Tomorrow: Where in Wonderland are we?


  1. Wow. A fun sculpture with a very serious message. I hope the kids — and the adults — pick it up!

  2. Sounds like a "Jonah in the whale" experience :)

  3. Damn, I missed that one. Must have been right behind me as well because I saw the railway tracks. I think I was getting very tired of the crowd by that time.

  4. Your last two posts are wonderful again. Oh how I am enjoying this! Thanks Sally, thanks a lot.

    I've linked my post today to your blog. There's also an art walk on in Avignon at the moment.
    Cheers !

  5. That's really incredible. My kindergarten kids would LOVE it. Well, the BOYS would.

  6. Oh thanks, Sally. I appreciate knowing the background and message of this whale. I posted my daughter's photos of it with my grandsons inside, but had no information on it.
    Sculpture by the Sea is one of my favorite things in life. Thanks for covering it so well.
    Shalom from Jerusalem.

  7. Interestingly, it's now been bought by the city council of Århus, Denmark:|en