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Kennisis: Horse and Rider

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William Lishman


Milled Steel

Installation Date

October 1, 2008

The theme of Expo 86 in Vancouver was transportation and communications.  There were three plazas that focused on various forms of transportation; land, sea and air.  My concept won the commission for the centerpiece sculpture for the Land Transportation plaza.  My thoughts (inspired by Terry Fox and Steve Fonyo) were that muscle power has been the mainstay of our transportation in human history. Legs have carried humankind around the planet since our forbearers crawled from the sea, and who knows when we first started riding various animals. The horse more than any other animal has carried us for many millennia. The overall piece was comprised of many elements depicting the devolution of the wheel. It started at the bottom out of a traffic jam as if wheeled vehicles had been caught in some tornado-like blender, and were torn apart in an upward spiral of varying colours around a central cone to a height of 86 feet. The vehicle parts re-congealed into muscle powered transportation. A celebration of legs!  Aside from the wheeled vehicles at the bottom, it was comprised of 55 figures which gradually diminished in size as they spiraled skyward giving the piece a forced perspective and making it appear much higher than its 86 feet. The horse sculpture was in the second step down in scale, just a bit smaller than life size.  It represented the history of equestrian transportation depicting a North American aboriginal rider as one with the horse in mind and muscle.  The segments that are welded together to make the sculpture are off cuts from a metal stamping plant that made parts for General Motors in Oshawa. The overall piece was entitled Transcending the Traffic. 


The sculpture was purchased by Janis Parker and donated to Fleming College which has provided the sculpture on permanent loan to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. Janis chose the name Kennisis, the name of a racehorse owned by Gary Vasey and Don Finn, to honour the Vasey and Finn families.

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