Play Objects was the first project I created at the Not Quite Artist Residency in western Sweden in 2011. Not Quite is located in an old factory compound in Fengersfors, a village of about 400 people. Tthe first thing I noticed about Fengersfors was that everyone seemed to congregate at the small beach by Knarrby Sjӧn, the cigar shaped lake just north of town. It was August and there were many children there every day. They were naturally the same children, and they looked like they were desperately in need of something new to do. Their parents also clearly wanted them to be active, preferably as far away from them as possible.
I thought of creating some objects in the water, sirens of sort, that children could go swim out to for no other reason than to go there and back. In a sublime landscape one does not need much reason to do anything; bouncing a ball, skimming a rock, or flying a kite all suffice for diversion. After discussing the idea with Karl Hallberg, the residency director, he was remembered some fiberglass balls lying around his old art school, Steneby, down the road in Dals Langed. We jumped in his pickup truck and made our way down to the school, where, just outside the main entrance, was a mixture between a materials area and a junkyard. Sure enough, on top of a pile of rusty flotsam were many multicolored fiberglass balls. We fit as many as we could into his truck and headed back to the welding shop, where we retrofitted them for water existence. We also drilled out some stones as anchors , and when ready, pickup trucked them down to the beach for launch.
We hauled them out into the water, just far enough away from land as to be attractions to swim out to. The end result was just as we figured: the kids loved them. At first they played with them as we expected; however as the balls slowly drifted closer to shore during the next week, they tried things we had not even thought of: rolling over them, balancing on them, and even pulling them onto the dry dock just to throw them off again. Eventually the water proved to be more than our engineering; some sank, others floated away. But for a short while, they did add a bit of excitement and curiousity to the beachfront.