Wind Swimmer sculpture returns to Kits Pool

August 17 2018

“The Wind Swimmer required significant structural work as a result of the damage it sustained, but now the mobile sculpture is back home," said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

Wind Swimmer

The swimmer is back enjoying her multi-million dollar views!

The Wind Swimmer, a sculpture of a woman in a bathing suit with articulated limbs that allow her to swim through the air, returned to Kitsilano Pool this week after a three year absence. The speed of the swimmer’s movements is controlled by a propeller and local wind currents.

The artwork was repaired after it took a dive during an intense windstorm in August 2015.

Structural damage

“The Wind Swimmer  required significant structural work as a result of the damage it sustained, but now the mobile sculpture is back home. This particular artwork is a result of a successful partnership between the Park Board, artist Doug Taylor , and philanthropists Herb and Mary Auerbach. With its new engineering components, we hope it will stand the test of time … and windstorms of the future,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

The vast majority of the work was done by Park Board trades staff. The paint specs were developed by the Superintendent of the Paint shop, based on his extensive hobby of high quality car restoration. A highly experienced Park Board welder did the fabrication.

Missed icon

Park Board staff’s goal was to capture the artist’s original vision while incorporating new safety standards developed by the City’s Public Art department since the sculpture was commissioned more than 20 years ago. This has been new territory for both the artist and staff who had to find solutions to problems that none had previously encountered.

“I am delighted to see the Wind Swimmer restored to her perch above Kits Pool. On the day she was reinstalled, Herb Auerbach and I swam at the pool and were greeted by swimmers who have missed her over the past three years. Many Vancouverites swimming at Kits as children in the 1990’s bonded and embraced her as an icon in their city,” said artist Doug Taylor.

Taylor also produced Khenko, a wire sculpture of a heron and four large wind driven sails and heron, which can be found in George Wainborn Park.

Park Board donor Herb Auerbach said everyone who has seen this sculpture, whether swimmers or those just passing by, loved and adopted this accessible and whimsical weather vane.

“My dear friend and architect, the late Bing Thom, would tell me he could see Wind Swimmer from his window on Point Grey Road and would consult it each morning, and particularly before going sailing to see which way the wind was blowing,” said Auerbach.

Auerbach said “we are all delighted to see Wind Swimmer reinstalled after a three year absence. This was evidenced by the loud round of applause received from those at the pool.”

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