Wednesday 12 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 5 - Barking up the Right Tree

Moving on upstairs, we found 'Forkocactus Spoonelliflora' and 'Barking up the Right Tree', two sculptures by artist Johnny White, who describes himself as a Mechanical Sculptor, working mostly in steel and usually including kinetic elements or light.

'Forkocactus Spoonelliflora' (the smaller one at the front) is a musical donation box. As the coin is dropped into the sculpture through one of the many slots, it hits a section of the 'musical instrument' within and chimes a note. It was commissioned in 2008 and based on a cactus from the nearby Winter Gardens. Like Barking up the Right Tree, it uses cutlery in its design.

The 'Right Tree'  up which we are meant to bark, is the rather larger giraffe-like, sunflower thingy behind and is entirely covered in knives, forks and spoons; all of which were donated by the people of Sheffield.

This one is the older, having been commissioned in 2000, for the opening of the Millennium Gallery.It was originally intended to be a temporary installation (6 months), but has remained popular and therefore, remained here. 

There are four buttons on a front panel of the tree, three of which activate the heads at the end of the branches and the fourth of which operates an audio clip of a dog barking. (Having said that, we pushed all four and didn't notice any movement from anywhere. It did, however, bark!)

I do find the giraffe face rather appealing! I'm not sure whether it's the sticky-out ears, the curly eyelashes or the thick slobbery lips, but something.

Incidentally, according to the information in the gallery, Johnny White is a local artist, but an arts website I browsed said he is based in Wirksworth. He's certainly been involved in some projects in the Derwent Valley Heritage Area, but I can't find any more info on his location. Anyone shed any light?


  1. It does has a sweet face - maybe it's the eyelashes:)

  2. Hi Sacristan - nice to see you again!

    Hi H - We all grew up "in the colonies of the time" knowing Sheffield was where our cutlery was made, but I'd never have imagined using mine in this way :)

    Interesting and intruiging!

  3. Both are amazingly beautiful.

  4. When we bought Pondside there was a sculpture not unlike what you've portrayed. I loathed it and made it a condition of sale that it be removed. For years after people still commented 'oh, the house with the dinosaur' wasn't a dinosaur, but it sure looked like one!

  5. Fabulous sculptures! The giraffe does have an adorable face. I am always amazed that artists can make thing like this out of common day materials.