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Russell Solomon Food for Thought Photo: Masa

Russell Solomon QLD – Food for thought. Rubbing Buda’s belly for good luck, rolling the ball in the lion’s mouth and spinning prayer wheels in temples are some examples of interactions with sculptural forms. As a young boy my Grandfather introduced me to the Paul Klee image of “Twittering Machine” I recall bursting to reach into the picture to turn that crank handle.

Russell Solomon stands by his sculpture, Food for Thought, and is surrounded by a group of children interacting with the sculpture. They churn the handle with intensity and look up in awe as the wire shark tries to chomp on the blue wire fish swinging in the breeze.
Russell’s artistic journey starts with his childhood. His grandfather, Lance Solomon, was an Australian landscape painter who won the prestigious Wynne Prize twice in his life. Russell recalls the creative genius of his grandfather and the joy he felt when creating alongside him as a child.
“I remember my grandfather and I built a train set together by hand and I thought I want to keep making things, I want to keep doing this,” Russell recalls.
His fascination with art and sculpture only grew as his Grandfather introduced him to a Paul Klee image of Twittering Machine.
“As a boy I wanted to reach into the picture and turn the crank handle. I used to stare and stare at it imagining I was turning the handle,” Russell explains.
Food for Thought is a reflection of that child turning the handle, more people arrive to wind the wooden handle and watch the shark move its jaws. Parents hold up their children so they can reach, and they turn it with rushed excitement. Russell delicately explains that the handle can be turned back and forth and have the same effect.
“Can I show you?” he asks one of the children.
The gathering crowd stands back as Russell explains his giant sculpture and how the handle can be moved gently to have the same effect. He is proud and protective of his piece, like a parent would be with a child.
Russell’s sculptures blend biology and machinery, giving the audience the opportunity for interaction, to enjoy a sense of connection and childlike joy. Russell has always been fascinated with the natural world and this year his wire sculptures have been focused on marine life and the ocean.
“We are in their territory,” he explains when asked about the chosen animal of his sculpture.
“Sharks eat fish, not humans, the reality is more people die taking selfies than from shark attacks.”
A young mother and her two daughters begin twirling the handle and inviting their father to come and join in on the fun. Everybody walks away with a smile on their face and a hop in their step.
“I’m paid in smiles,” Russell explains with his umbrella high over his head.
Russell’s connection with his audience becomes clear when a little girl asks if he can remember her from a school trip. She eagerly approaches the sculpture with her parents and they all take turns interacting with the wire sculpture, intrigued by the movement created from the simple device.
“I’ve been here every day and I’ve met so many wonderful people, I love coming here,” Russell smiles as he helps the little girl turn the handle.
During our interview Russell takes a phone call that has him smiling from ear to ear.
“I just sold my smalls sculpture at Dust Temple,” he says with bursting excitement.
The small-scale wire sculptures Russell created were the entry examples of how wire can be bent and manipulated into different shapes to create structure and movement before the large-scale piece was installed. Remarkably Russell completed the large sculpture within a month of being accepted into Swell. He had minimal self-doubts and was confident in his ability to work with wire on a large scale.
Another child approaches Food for Thought and begins turning the handle in a rush.
“Here let me show you, “ Russell tells him and once again the surrounding crowd smiles as Russell explains his sculpture and watch as the sculpture come to life.

Haley Smith is an emerging writer and creative from the Gold Coast. She has had an active blog for over ten years where she shares her short stories, poetry and travelling adventures. She has founded a Podcast; Atomic Sunflowers. Here she shares stories about creative living beyond fear, mental health and balancing the creative mind.

Follow her on Instagram @haleylaurensmith or her blog