Dorsey James, Sculptor





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Walk at Homeplace

Creating Place
Dorsey James

Home Place is comprised of used and discarded hydro poles. I have carved into these poles images of characters and symbols from world mythology and legend. These were, then, installed along Pickering, Ontario's waterfront trail.
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Home Place became a reality as a result of the coming together of three, seemingly, unrelated events. Event one occurred roughly seventeen years ago. While "day-cationing" with the family in Northern Ontario, I came across a huge pile of used hydro poles. They were left in a field to rot. I commented to my wife that there must be something that could be done with all that wood. She threatened to break both my legs if I stopped the car to take a look. Though the memory lingered on, I did not stop. The second event occurred some years later while visiting Germany. There, I was touched by the beautiful walking trails. This resulted in my becoming involved with the waterfront trail revitalization program upon returning home.

When asked by our mayor for suggestions as to what we in the arts could do to beautify our waterfront and trails, I immediately suggested that we recycle some of those discarded hydro poles out rotting in the fields and carve in them images that would reflect the cultural diversity of our community. When all the laughing stopped and the committee realized that I was serious, I was asked to put together a formal proposal which would address concerns such as weathering of the wood, vandalism, safety, environmental issues etc. to name but a few. This, I did to the satisfaction of the committee, of the city and of the province. The residential and business community warmly embraced the idea.

What intrigued me then and now is how supportive the residential and business community proved to be in making Home Place a reality. They willingly offered products and services free of charge. There was an incredible amount of good will exhibited towards the project. Ontario Power Generation, Hydro, offered the land on which to install the project. The land, now a park, is a reclaimed waste disposal site. This was quite appropriate as Home Place is constructed almost entirely (ninety eight percent) of recycled materials.

Varidian Power Connections not only provided the used hydro poles, but as well, the five man crew and powerful machinery necessary for their transportation, and installation once the carving was complete. The Dremel, Makita and Giles tool companies donated tools and repair services. The Durham Region District School Board provided workspace at one of their high schools. As well, students and staff at that high school, Dunbar ton high school of Pickering, helped in the carving of the sculptures.

Fine artists are notorious for concentrating their senses solely in and on their area of expertise. I am no different. However there were certain times during the creation of Home Place when I pretended that I was blind. Many works of public art intended to stand and be noticed. This public work certainly does that, but I wanted it to be used.

Often the creation of a sense of place means finding and defining space. Home Place seeks to add to that space, timelessness through form and an enchantment and magic through myth and lore. During this Speaking engagement, I would like to share via slide show, photographs and discussion some of the feeling, thought and innovation that coalesced to make Home Place the reality that it is today.


  All text and images on this site are © 2007, Dorsey James
Site design and maintenance: Hatch Media
January 29, 2007