9-FIGURES WITH A PUCK
Al Henderson 2016
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Material: EPS, Polyurea, Steel, Industrial Coatings
Albertan artist Al Henderson is no stranger to public art, and the maquettes and works in his St. Albert studio demonstrate his contribution. Henderson was awarded one of four commissions for the new Edmonton arena, Rogers Place. He developed the concept, 9 Figures in Motion with a Puck, for the interior of the new Edmonton Oilers home, installed above the entrance to their Downtown Community Arena.
The artist aimed to capture the energy and action experienced by individuals and groups in public spaces, and aligned the content with the nature of the arena entrance it watches over. The installation incorporates sculpture and painting; nine activated figures moving over a surface adorned with a mural depicting the residual line-work of skating. The silky black finish is captivating and the forms, intertwined and aggressive, challenge and intrigue the viewer and command examination.
His artwork often explores realism. Creating movement and paying careful attention to details, Henderson captures the life within each of his sculptural pieces. Commissioned to create public artwork throughout Alberta, he also taught children, in both St. Albert and Edmonton, various workshops dealing with Greek sculpture, animation, cartooning and sculpting with wire.“My work usually focuses on the human form. Some sculptures represent actual events or well-known people other do not. Most display a very restrained movement but the latest public sculptures are exceptions to that, being quite busy.
Henderson currently teaches sculpture at the University of Alberta.
Carvel Creative was enlisted by Henderson to take on the fabrication and design, beginning with the mechanical design in consultation with their structural engineer. The artist provided Carvel with digital models which were analyzed for substrate design, an internal framework, and the requisite connection details. Concurrently, Carvel’s design team researched and procured all materials to be LEED compliant. Upon design approval, Carvel machined the larger components from EPS foam before manually adjusting, detailing and embedding the substrate into each part. The components were designed modularly, each given rod and sleeve attachments to maximize sculptability and handling.
At this stage the artist himself sculpted the faces and small components in preparation for the fire resistant polyurea hard coating. Once coated the components were meticulously sanded and detailed to automotive quality. As the project wound down, Henderson spent several days and weekends at Carvel’s studio ensuring the quality and finish were exceptional.
In the concluding phase, each sculptural element received numerous coats of paint and satin clear before being prepped for shipping. On site, Carvel’s installation team projected the artists drawing to ensure an accurate mural representation, and the components were mounted to the structurally enhanced wall and adhered.
The final product was installed on time and budget to much fanfare from the Edmonton Arts Council, the media and public.