As a long-term Artist in Residence at the Exploratorium (an innovative science museum in San Francisco, California) Peter Richards shares his enthusiasm for nature and the elements through his work. His engaging outdoor public sculptures and immersive landscaped environments bring such phenomena as wind and tidal movement into a larger cultural context.
"The Wave Organ" (1986), is a delightful gurgling project located on a jetty in San Francisco Bay. It is a large scale wave-activated acoustic sculpture, developed by Richards and installed in collaboration with sculptor and master stone mason George Gonzales. According to the artist, "inspiration for the piece came from artist Bill Fontana's recordings made of sounds emanating from a vent pipe off a floating concrete dock in Sydney, Australia."
This acknowledgement is consistent with Peter Richards' appreciation of context and the environmental relationships underlying any local history. Wind activated giant oars in "Sky Sweeps" in Aberdeen, Washington (2004), echo the changing fortunes of local maritime and lumber industries and enliven a bordering waterfront park. Acoustic elements of projects such as "Clapotis" in Lake Geneva, Switzerland (1995), rely on a repurposed Olympic racing boat hull which serves as an acoustic chamber for listening to the sound of waves under a pier. Visitors gain a very physical appreciation of place as well as a connection to an international competitive sport born from the same elements.
"My work comes from an ongoing personal experimental process - research is an important component of my work and I like to collaborate. Because each of my sites has required a unique "language" to bring them to life, my work does not have a signature visual style." What Peter Richards' work does have, is a consistent and measured elegance which engages residents in celebrating the inherent beauty of place.
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