Siri McCormick


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handmade automaton (simple machine) | wood, reclaimed textbook, wire mechanism, hand knit, felted & hand sewn figure | 6” x 10” x 15”   

Sven is a bit itchy. It’s cold day, so he’s worn his new sweater and mittens to school even though wool always makes him squirm. Class isn’t quite over but he’s already thinking about whether there will be time to have a snowball fight with his brother before he needs to be home to do his chores.

Ole and Sven were inspired by several boxes of old black and white photographs that I recently inherited from my mother. Her family were part of the immigrant migration that settled south central Saskatchewan at the turn of the last century – actual pioneers who dug water wells by hand and lived in sod houses. Many of the photos in these boxes documented their everyday lives: ploughing fields, knitting a sweater, or posing with a pet chicken (no kidding). One of my favourites shows my (very young) mother and her classmates sitting at their desks inside the local one room schoolhouse. The desks and chairs are arranged in rows, facing the chalkboard where their teacher stands with her trusty pointer. The faces of the students wear similar glazed expressions, and all appear to be counting the minutes until class is over and they can slip out to the sweet escape of somewhere else.

I think about how I’ve put in my own hours sitting behind a wooden school desk, facing a chalkboard, and watching the clock tick - daydreaming about what I’d rather be doing instead of those darned times tables. Chances are, you’ve done your share of daydreaming as well…