aka Savannah Olympic Cauldron
by: Ivan Bailey
Who wants to
call it a cauldron? Isn't that one of those nasty black pots meant for boiling
newts and bats in?
This torch, for the sailing venue of the 1996 Olympic Games, is the only official torch lit outside of Atlanta on July 20, 1996. Savannah is so far from Atlanta that it was decided that it could hold its own opening and closing ceremonies.
I was approached by the Savannah Olympic cultural group Arts Ashore 96 in november of last year and asked to make a torch which would remain after the games as a lasting memorial on the city's beautiful waterfront promenade.
The second and less favorite design I did was chosen and work was begun in march of this year. It was a great challenge and an honor. I wasn't the first artist asked to do the project, but was the one able to guide them to a source for funding.
I began my career in Savannah in 1973 working there until 1982 when I resettled with my family in Atlanta. Those years gave me an insight into the kind of work the people would take unto themselves and therefore it is a fairly straightforward, somewhat classical sculpture. Savannhians are somewhat distant from the cutting edge. Besides, this was a piece which should transcend the style of the moment and be a permanent part of a city with tons of heritage.
The columns are based upon both several other works I did in Savannah and especially, with the tie-in to the 100 year anniversary of the modern games in mind. They are especially inspired by the columns of the Porch Of The Maidens on the acropolis in Athens. The six lovely greek maidens holding up the roof have been a favorite of mine since art history days in college. I chose 5 rather than 6 columns both because this is a lesser work but also and primarily because I have always loved asymmetry. The visual effect of five, rather than four or six, is remarkable and seldom to be seen. The five sided capitals resemble the heads and the waist, fluted columns suggest the "chilton" or dresses the maidens are wearing.
The original design spaced the columns widely apart, each with a sail on top and a lower cauldron in the center. The Arts Ashore group felt that a taller,more compact design would be more effective. In retrospect, considering the site, I cannot strenuously disagree.
The plinth, or pancake as I referred to it during construction, brought the piece closer to the maiden's porch effect. The six sails are obviously a celebration of the purpose of the venue. The fire bowl, open at the top during the games would be surmounted by a copper flame afterward. The direction the flame will point to will be determined by the direction of the wind at the time of the opening ceremonies.
This sculpture is a copyright protected art work and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.
Ivan Bailey 1463 Clairmont Rd. Decatur, Georgia 30033
© 1996 All Rights Reserved Ivan Bailey / ArtMetal
ArtMetal Editor/Curator: enrique
Last Updated: Tue, Jul 23, 1996