Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: William Pye's Charybdis

In Greek mythology, Charybdis is a sea monster who hindered travelers in the Mediterranean Sea, including Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey.  Some versions of the story depict Charybdis as a beautiful siren, while others describe her as a whirlpool that exists on one side of the Strait of Messina.

This is the mythology that William Pye drew from when he created his water sculpture entitled Charybdis--a sculpture that is located in front of Seaham Hall in northern England.  The sculpture is a giant whirlpool, which seems to stand on its own without anything holding it up.

Here's a video of the sculpture in action:

Not only does the sculpture draw from mythological sources, but it also appears fantastic in nature--the clear acrylic polymer that Pye used to create the sides of the vortex is nearly invisible, making the whirlpool appear to be freestanding.  Here is Pye's website, which explains more about how the sculpture was created; it also has links to Pye's other works, many of which are fascinating as well.  I really enjoy artwork that employs water, and Pye's use of water in much of his work (see also his works at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, and Bristol) takes one of the most basic elements of everyday life and transforms it into something magical.