What do artists think about when they create humongous versions of things we don’t really care about? If their goal is to catch everyone’s attention and be the talk of the social media world, looks like they’ve been doing a great job. For this list, we’ve collected ten quirky sculptures around the world that floated through lakes and rivers while entertaining – and also pissing off – the public. These sculptures prove that you can never underestimate art and its effectiveness in sending a message.
1. The Rubber Duck
Rubber duckies aren’t only limited to bath tubs at home and it seems like creating a huge one can create a change on how you view a once-a-dull harbor. The huge inflatable rubber duck called “Spreading Joy Around the World” was created by the Dutch artist, Florentjin Hofman in 2007, aiming to make viewers recall their childhood memories. The rubber duck has traveled to different ports and harbors around the world starting from Amsterdam in 2007 to Shanghai in 2014. The duck has appeared in 14 cities.
2. The Sea Turtle in Sydney, Australia
In 2014, a huge floating sea turtle sculpture called “Alphie” swims past the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia. The sculpture is a creation of the Australian artist BJ Price to showcase his waterproofed paintings displayed in tanks during his art exhibit in Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. The floating sea turtle is decorated with abstract, black and white detail inspired by coral reef structures, with a length of 15 meters and height of 5 meters, intend to create public awareness about the state of the great reef.
3. The Floating Buddha in New York, USA
A 10-foot-high inflatable Buddha sitting on a wooden lily pad drifted back and forth in Sculpture Park, located in Long Island City, Queens. The artwork named ‘”Floating Echo” was created by Chang-Jin Lee as a part of the Asian American Arts Alliance’s Locating the Sacred Festival. While the translucent Buddha floated around the river through harsh winds and breezes, it made a small tranquil spot in the river with the Manhattan skyline as its background.
4. Polar Bear and Cub in London, UK
In 2009, a sad sight was seen floating past the Houses of Parliament as a polar bear with her cub stood stranded on an iceberg. The 16-foot-high structure was created by a team of 15 artists to let the people become aware about climate change and its effect on the Arctic. The sculpture started floating in Greenwich, Southeast London and went upstream to Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. It was also launched in Birmingham and Glasgow.
5. The Finger in Prague, Czech Republic
If there were floating sculptures created to make awareness about global issues or just simply provide happiness through art, the purpose in creating one in Czech Republic was different. In 2013, artist David Cerny made a 10-meter plastic purple hand sculpture with a raised middle finger, launching it at Prague’s Vltava River. The structure stood on a pontoon boat and floated up to its desired spot across the Prague Castle where President Milos Zeman resides. The finger came up four days before the Czech snap parliamentary elections with the president favoring the post-election plan by the leftist Social Democrats to form a minority government with implicit support from communists.
6. The Hippopotamus in River Thames, UK
In 2014, a giant wooden hippopotamus was seen swimming around the area of Nine Elms on the South Bank of the Thames River for four weeks. Another Florentjin Hofman piece (remember the one who made the floating rubber duck?), the HippopoThames sculpture was part of the 30-day Totally Thames event which celebrates London’s famous river. Hofman’s first UK commission was inspired by the prehistory of the river when hippos used to inhabit it.
7. Giant Sushi Train in Osaka, Japan
Osaka, the foodie city of Japan, has been connected with food since the early times as it held the title as Tenka no Daidokoro (The Nation’s Kitchen) during the Edo era from 17th to 19th century. The first conveyor belt sushi restaurant also came from Osaka in 1958 and in 2015, they created an upsized version found floating at the Tombori Riverwalk. The “Rolling Sushi” installation was one of the works displayed for the Osaka Canvas Project, an event where the city fills itself with outdoor performances and interactive installations.
8. The Bathing Lady in Hamburg, Germany
An enormous 12-foot sculpture of a woman bathing in a lake was seen in 2011 in Hamburg’s Alster Lake. Although the sculpture displays a giant lady, the work is only composed of three parts: the head and two knees. The lady in the lake was created by Oliver Voss in hopes that his piece will entertain the public which had been quite a success in attracting locals and tourists for ten days. However, district mayor Markus Schreiber expressed the lady was “sullying the beloved lake”.
9. The Floating Dumpster from Slovenia to Italy
Brooklyn-based street artist SWOON, together with a crew of 30, created three 20-foot sculptures made of the scrap wood they took from construction sites for their “Swimming Cities of Serenissima” project. The wooden structures on floating pontoons were sailed from Koper, Slovenia to Venice, Italy. As they sailed across the Adriatic, they collected flowers, music, trinkets, and stories into their Floating Cabinet of Wonders to inspire the busy world.
10. Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy in London, UK
For the fans of the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, the scene where Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth) emerging from a lake with a wet white shirt was unforgettable. In 2013, a 12-foot tall fiberglass-made sculpture of the loved Mr. Darcy emerged from the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park with a perfect wet shirt look. It took three sculptors to complete Mr. Darcy commissioned to celebrate the launch of UKTV’s new TV channel drama.
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