Canadian Folk Art Outdoors

Fence Posts

If the gentle movement of weather-vanes is best appreciated above the horizon, the frenetic motion of wind-driven whirligigs must be seen directly at eye-level. Derived from working machines such as windmills or possibly early water pumps, whirligigs have the added dimension of hilarious, uncontrolled speed in a brisk breeze. Can you milk a cow this fast?!

Mallard Duck - Photo: H. Foster Flapping Mallard Duck
Martin Yankovick
Kingston, Ontario
Ca. 1936
CCFCS 84-68

One of the loveliest whirligigs in the exhibition, this duck is exquisitely made and mechanically perfect; only the propeller and tail fin seem strangely oversized and misplaced. Obviously, the wind mechanism was secondary to the artist's initial conception of a splendid mallard.

Ukrainian Bird
Kost Pawlyk
Elk Point, Alberta
CCFCS 81-236. 1 and 2
Ukrainian Bird - Photo: H. Foster

A Ukrainian immigrant to the Canadian Prairies, Mr. Pawlyk created this beautifully free-turning whirligig with an engineer's eye as well as an artist's imagination. The wings turn on tiny copper bushings, and the propeller-shaped pinions are perfectly formed. The colours are reminiscent of Hutsulian Easter egg designs, so familiar to many Canadians.

Mr. Pawlyk also made bird house trees, in which each metal branch held a tiny painted bird cottage. These tall assemblages had either a two-winged decorated "bird" or a three-winged "goose" at the top. Compared to many other outdoor folk art pieces, this bird is in remarkably good condition - this is because the artist brought it indoors each night once the day's flying was done.

Man Milking Cow - Photo: H. Foster Man Milking Cow
Arthur MacNeill
St. Peters, Prince Edward Island
CCFCS 82-51

One of Mr. MacNeill's many carvings and wind machines, this delightful creation features beautiful paint work, and such details as Bossy's braided rope tail. And yet there is also undeniable humour in a piece like this - especially when the wind is fresh.

Ralph Boutilier
Milton, Nova Scotia
Early 1970s
CCFCS 76-474
Eagle - Photo: H. Foster

Already a dab hand at painting and at building model ships, Mr. Boutilier turned his mechanical skills to making impressive whirligigs with sophisticated gear-driven inner workings. The whirling tail on this eagle allows the wings to move up and down, although the mechanism is so heavy and sturdy that the wind has to be uncomfortably strong to make it turn at a good speed.


This Other Eden
Canadian Folk Art Outdoors


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