Whitehorse sculptor building zoetrope from Yellowknife trash

Whitehorse artist Philippe LeBlond is creating art from part of the infrastructure that used to sit on the government dock in Yellowknife’s Old Town.
Whitehorse artist Philippe LeBlond sits atop a conveyor belt that was removed from the government dock in Yellowknife’s Old Town. He's planning to use parts of it to build an old-fashioned zoetrope for public display. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

A Whitehorse artist is creating art from part of the infrastructure that used to sit on the government dock in Yellowknife’s Old Town.

Philippe LeBlond is a scavenger, sculptor and engineer who’s doing an artistic residency in Yellowknife through the YK Artist Run Community Centre.

He’s been working down at the dump, scavenging what he can for his latest project.

That includes parts from an old conveyor belt that the city removed during a controversial cleanup of the government dock. A crane was removed to Joliffe Island. The conveyor belt wound up at the dump. 

“It’ll mean a lot to people to have iconic bits of their city infrastructure in the sculpture,” LeBlond says. “A lot of people are telling me, ‘Hey, we used to lock our bicycles to it when we were going to our houseboats!’ And sure enough, there’s a bicycle lock still on it.”

LeBlond’s goal is to build a zoetrope, a Victorian contraption that was used to create moving animations.

A typical zoetrope is fashioned out of a bowl with slots in the side. On the inside, across from the slots, are a series of images. As the bowl spins, a viewer looking through the slots will see what looks like a one- or two-second animation.

“Literally, it was the same idea as film.”

LeBlond’s zoetrope will be about 1.5 metres wide and 2 metres tall, with a crank on the side to make the images move.

Inside will be a cityscape. 

“Lakes, fish, boats, floatplanes,” he says.

Not an illustrator himself, LeBlond says he’s working with others to provide the images, and invites anyone to bring some down.

“If you can make 12 little drawings of a series of movements, we can put it in.”

LeBlond will be down at Somba Ke Park from 11 to 7 today.