Bird Fountain. Bronze. Height 37'. David Wynne. Ambassador College, Pasadena, California.
Credits for reference photographs at end of article.
Reference information at end of article.
(When I visited the Bird Fountain, some years ago, the day was windy and the water was shut off.)
The fountain is situated in front of Ambassador Auditorium. It is in a pool of water that is at the center of circular bridges.
The sculpture is situated at the center of a cross, which resembles a Celtic cross.
The sculpture is composed of five long-necked birds (geese?) rising out of the water around a central support shaft (which probably carries water for the fountain cascade).
The lines of the birds made a series of simple opposing circles spiraling up.
In terms of composition, the difficulty has been to create the upward movement without allowing the figures to look like a mobile, hanging around the central pillar.
Unfortunately, without the water turned on, the birds seems heavy and lacking grace - undoubtedly just the opposite of the intended effect.
The effect of the piece very much depends on the angle of viewing. It views best when observed from the auditorium. From this angle, the wheeling of the birds appears natural and light. The planes of the large wing spans are graceful, rather than sluggish.
Pasadena Bird Fountain and Tyne God Fountain photos by Clive Barda, from The Sculpture of David Wynne 1968-74, reproduced in exhibition catalog (source, below). Circling Birds, Dancer with a Bird, and Boy with a Dolphin photos by Richard Cooke in the exhibition catalog (source, below).
"David Wynn was born in 1926 and was educated at Stowe and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read zoology. He served in the Royal Navy from 1945 to 1947 and started work as a sculptor in 1949 without having attended art school. He exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in 1950 and at the Royal Academy in 1952. In 1953 he began teaching one day a week at Langford Grove girls' school, where he worked until 1958. He now lives and works in Wimbledon.
"He had one-man shows at the Leicester Galleries in 1955 and 1959; at Tooth's Gallery in 1964 and 1966; at the Findlay Galleries, NewYork, in 1967, 1969 and 1973; and at Covent Garden Gallery in 1970 and 191.
"His public commissions include the enormous bronze Tyne God at Newcastle upon Tyne, the bronze Girl with a Dolphin by Tower Bridge and Embracing Lovers at the Guildhall, London. His private commissions include portraits of the Queen and the Prince of Wales."
Exhibition catalog. "Sculpture in Holland Park 1975"; An exhibition presented by The Illustrated London News in conjunction with the Greater London Council. London: The Illustrated London News, 1975. P. 28.
I was so impressed by the Wynn pieces in this exhibition, which I viewed when living in London, that I sought out the Wynn fountain when visiting Los Angeles a few years later. I recall that I loved Wynn's emotional fusion of masculine muscularity with lyricism. I was in my Freudian period, and interpreted the lyricism as orgasmic. When on a rail trip to Edinburgh, I attempted to catch a glimpse of the Tyne God during the brief station stop of the Flying Scotsman at Newcastle Upon Tyne, but I was unsuccessful.