Country Life Magazine Article; Written on the wind

April 2020

A dancing flash of light and a silent spin of angles; NICK HAMMOND meets a young
farmer with his head in the clouds…

POOLS of rising thermal air, the eddy of a spring zephyr; how a leaf drops and a bird
soars. From the twirling elegance of a sycamore leaf to the uplift of the primary feathers of a

passing Red Kite; these are the things on Will Carr’s mind as he works his family
farm in Herefordshire. He’s long been obsessed with movement in nature.
Earthbound and clad in gauntlets and face mask, he recreates that invisible world in
a series of extraordinary kinetic sculptures which are displayed in gardens, parks
and exhibitions across the world.

‘I help my father run a mixed farm,’ says the former Civil Engineering student, ‘and
I’ve always been obsessed with patterns and geometry within nature. The way the
wind moves, and how forms repeat is endlessly fascinating.’

But what on earth is kinetic sculpture?
‘It’s basically sculptures that move and oscillate in the wind,’ laughs Sam.
We’re not talking about wind veining here; apparently that’s dead easy. Kinetic art is
a constantly moving, twisting, turning, ever-changing kaleidoscope of suggested
shapes that is mesmeric to the eye. Silent in motion, serene in the highest winds,
they bring calm and elegance in their evolving dance.

‘It starts with ideas and sketches of course, but then, in order to make sure the thing
will actually work, I work with precision CAD (Computer Aided Design) modelling.
The concept is designed on the computer; how to find the centre of balance, the
weight loading. It’s a strange mix of natural forms, engineering, geometry, physics.
And when you get engrossed, time just flies.’

As does Will himself, when the farm can spare him. With little more than a rucksack
strapped to his back, a stretch of canopy overhead and a series of ropes to guide
him, he launches himself into the realm of the red kite with his own form of flight.
‘I’ve been flying a paraglider for over 10 years now, and it gives me such an amazing
insight into how the wind works,’ says Will. ‘When you’re flying, you need to
constantly be aware of changes in windspeed, direction; you’re looking at how the
land affects how the air moves; searching for thermals. It’s as much about what you
can’t see as it is about what you can. I think that really helps when I’m back on the
ground and thinking about how something might move according to the conditions
they’re in.’ That’s another aspect to kinetic art which consumes the artist.

‘Every single installation is different,’ enthuses Will. ‘Where a piece is situated has a
huge affect on how it will move. Is it near a hedge, or a large tree? Is it in open
parkland or along an avenue where the wind is funnelled? That will change how the
sculpture works on any one given day.’
But what does one of Will’s sculptures look like? Of course, to see them in all their
intended glory, you need to see them move (there are videos on his website, listed
below). Many use shiny metal – stainless steel, for example – pinned and bolted and
using bearings and joints to create a visually arresting, ever-changing wheel of

‘That’s another thing that appeals to people; how the piece is never the same from
one second to the next. It’s very soothing and rhythmic.’

While Will often works on more obvious works of art, from metalwork owls to giant
spiders, he never tells clients at first what an abstract-looking sculpture is actually
based on. That way, they get to make their own mind up.

‘Some of them want to know what the design is based on, eventually, but I always
ask them what they think it is before I tell them. Very few think along the same lines I
do. And some don’t want to know; it’s their sculpture and to them, it’s something
else. And that’s fine too.’

With exhibitions across the UK and public commissions from Australia and
Wisconsin, USA, Will’s work keeps him as busy as the farm will allow.

‘I’m focusing more on creating a great design of something and then making a few of
them, rather than on private commissions,’ he says. ‘Those were taking up too much
of my time to create.

‘But once I get my overalls on, get in the studio and start playing, I get lost in my own
little world. I can end up in there late into night, scheming and creating, welding,
checking. Once the sculpture is finished and installed, it’s good to go forever,
basically. It won’t weather, and the bearings might need changing every 20 years or
so, but that’s about it.’
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