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”   

Ole is feeling a bit chilly as he sits in his chair, impatiently waiting for class to be over. The wood stove has gone out, so he has pulled on his hand-me-down sweater and mittens to warm up for a bit. He is dreaming about going sledding on his way home and the anticipation is making him fidget in his seat as he waits for the bell to ring.

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…