Slinky exhibition: It’s not a toy, it’s art

A traditional slinky. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
A traditional slinky. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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IT is the walking spring toy that has fascinated generations of youngsters.

Now the Slinky is to take centre staged in a major new Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition at the city’s biggest art and sculpture park.

Jupiter Artland.

Jupiter Artland.

New York artist Tara Donovan will be taking over an entire gallery at Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh, for a vast work of art made entirely out of the toys, which can famously walk down slopes or stairs.

Robert and Nicky Wilson, the couple who have built up a huge showcase of contemporary art the 1000-acre grounds of their home, near Ratho, have invited Donovan - who is renowned in the art world for creating large-scale installations and sculptures from everyday objects - to transform three different spaces this summer.

The Slinky was created by an American naval engineeer, Richard James, in the early 1940s, after he dropped a tension spring he was working with and noticed how it kept moving after it hit the ground.

NASA famously used the springy toy for zero-gravity psychics experiments in space. It underwent a revival in the mid-1990s after the release of the Disney Pixar film Toy Star, which features a “Slinky Dog” character, and more than 300 million have been sold around the world to date.

Donovan’s Jupiter Artland show, which will open on 1 August, will also feature a large sculpture made entirely from plastic cups and another work, assembled out of polyester film, which looks like a giant molecule.

A spokeswoman for Jupiter Artland said: “These works characterise Donovan’s use of everyday industrial materials to create large-scale abstract installations that mimic nature, as if viewed from under a microscope.”

Jupiter Artland, which opened to the public six years ago, features more than 30 specially-commissioned works by the likes of Andy Goldsworthy, Antony Gormley, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor and Jim Lambie. Artists from around the world are invited to install different temporary works each year.