Over a dozen Southport Central School students and faculty traveled to downtown Boothbay Harbor Oct. 23 to experience some of the sculptures there. The outing marked the school’s first field trip this school year.
Sculpture Boothbay Curator and Coordinator Patricia Royall and advisor and sculptor Bill Royall led the group on a modified tour to eight sculptures around downtown. The tour ended with live demonstrations by sculptor Andreas von Huene.
Students learned about Bill Royall’s history as an artist when they stopped at his “Soap Box Racer.” Royall recounted finding the piece of granite that makes up most of the installation near his house on Southport.
“I said 'Jeez, maybe I can make a car out of this’ … I wanted a fin on the back, so I put a fin. Then I said, 'Well, wheels!' The wheels turn. What's neat is I've seen grown adults, men, grandpas come up to this thing and try to spin the wheel. This was a fun sculpture, I really enjoyed working on it. It's not my usual contemporary cutting edge stuff, but I love it.”
Fourth through sixth grade grade teacher Shawn Gallagher said while the sculpture walk would likely be the only field trip this year, the decision to take the trip was pretty clear with how small the group would be and being able to keep spread out with masks. “And the kids are really responsive to the guidelines. They are very mindful of them, better than adults at times I think.”
“The beauty about our small school is that we have a lot of freedom with what we engage the kids with and these types of things in the community don't happen very often, but we are engaging in a lot of this type of stuff at the school.”
Patricia Royall said the walk was the brainchild of Southport’s Patsy and Sophie West and the idea has spurred the Sculpture Boothbay board to seek out more schools willing to hold field trips. Royall said having the event outside and keeping everyone masked and distanced allowed students to safely indulge in the arts.
“A lot of kids might never see this and I think because of COVID the arts has gotten pushed back a little bit. This is a great way for them to be able to see it and gain some direct experience with the sculptures and this art.”
After students finished a sketching session at Royall’s work and visited the pieces at Tugboat Inn and Greenleaf Inn, the group circled back to House of Logan for a look at “Sun and Moon,” trekked up the bank to see “Head Wind” and met sculptor von Heune.
Von Heune showed off some of his tools and had students feel the differences in the diamond grinder blades’ grit sizes which ranged from about 80 to 4,000 grit. The crowd favorite was the cutoff saw von Heune used to knick a piece off a rock which he grinded down smooth.
“Sometimes I get inspired by rocks when I see what I can do with them. The shape challenges me,” he said turning to a large white stone atop his bench. “What should I do with this rock?”
“I see a face,” shouted a student.
“How can you see that? You're good. Is it a scutosaurus maybe?”
Von Heune let students trace the shape of an eye opposite to some of his work. When the students finished, von Heune demonstrated chiseling out shapes with hand tools rather than electric grinders so he wouldn't have to fire up his generator.
“They weren't shy about saying 'I daydream,'” von Heune said after the demonstration. “Thank goodness because that used to really be squashed out and that's such a shame … They ask such good leading questions. One kid said, 'Oh, so you're using an inexpensive material to make another material more valuable’ – polishing stone. That's a pretty complex set of thoughts for someone so young.”
After the demonstration, students were treated to cupcakes and cider before heading back to the bus. Said Gallagher, “We drive these roads all the time and never notice these until somebody brings them to our attention and then we realize what is around us all the time. It's really cool and hopefully now the kids will start to see it, too.”