Shayne Dark

Free Form in Blue, 2012

Heading south down West Street, as the road curves gently toward the downtown core, Shayne Dark’s Free Form in Blue makes for a striking image. The bright blue curiosity is nestled comfortably in the thick branches of a solid, antique locust tree rooted deeply into the front yard of the Kingston Pump House Steam Museum. The Pump House itself rests stoically along the shore of a sun-sparkled Lake Ontario as the Wolfe Island windmills spin gently in the distance. The entire scene is a spectacular pastiche of natural beauty, historical monumentality, and modern industry. The placement of Dark’s work here is an action in line with the idea that public art acts as a spectacular aesthetic respite from the otherwise common, functional civic landscape. As a dramatic and unusual anomaly, Free Form in Blue provides the viewer with a liminal moment of reflection, during which conceptual connections and sensory consciousness meet at the crossroads of everyday reality and experiential imagination – however briefly.

The assemblage of large pieces of natural wood used in the construction of Free Form in Blue, have been carefully found, selected, and collected by Dark over a period of several months. Culled primarily from the densely forested area behind his studio, these leftover bits of tree limbs and trunks retain much of their rough surface and uneven ridges. However, the wood has clearly not been left entirely untouched – coated as it is with a synthetic layer of neon-coloured paint, and manipulated into a shapely sculptural object. Free Form in Blue appears to us here as an artificial encroachment on the living spirit of this generations-weathered locust tree, but also as an expression of its’ original organic material. In this way, Dark’s installation reminds us of the delicate intersections that exist between the natural and constructed environments that surround us.


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