Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tom Westbrook | Ringing The Sink

One of my many pleasures when in the cabin is ringing the sink with my toothbrush while I brush my teeth. The sink in question is cast bronze, rough in appearance, with a nubbly texture on the outside and incised sketches of fish (we're on the North Shore, it has to have fish or a moose or bear) that rings with a clear and resonant tone when struck. The plastic base of the toothbrush seems to have the proper density and resilience to make a perfect striker. There is something calming, even Zen about that sound, loud in the small room.

The sink bowl was made by an artist just down the road, Tom Christiansen, sculptor, craftsman and all around great guy. With his partner Marcia Hyatt, he runs Last Chance Fabricating, a studio and gallery in Lutsen, MN. Here he makes cast bronze and welded steel sculptures and fixtures, most often with a humorous bent. The work Tom does is often collaborative, whether working with clients and designers to fabricate architectural elements and fixtures, working with other artists or simply getting a hand to deal with the weight, heat and all around danger in working with molten metal. His work ranges from “lost cardboard” cast bronze figures to memorial urns with wide ranging stops between.

I think one of the reasons I am so enamored of the sink is it seems to posses the same elemental nature that draws me to this place. The cabin I stay in is on the shore of Lake Superior where a spit ancient basalt lies just under the thin topsoil and juts out into the deep, cold lake. The sink itself is obviously born of fire. The room in which it sits is formed of heavy timbers, wood and slate, and can be rich with the scent of wet rock. Earth, air, fire and water, the elements of the ancients, which present themselves so powerfully in this place, hearken back to a time before organic life, to the time of the formation of our planet. It gives one the sort of centering feeling of insignificance that gazing at the stars can give. Here you can feel the weight of billions of years of history and the sink’s bell-like ring begins to sound like the music of the spheres.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's cool to hear about what's going on in other parts of the state. Thanks. Nice to see something that isn't modern.