The Art of Ladders

The Art of Ladders

07th October 2015

Here at Safety Fabrications we scour the internet on a regular basis for news on ladders and access equipment so that we can keep our readers up to date on all the latest happenings in the world of working at height. Every now and again we come across something ladder-related that’s not particularly pertinent but is so good that we like to share it with you just because it’s cool or interesting. This means that we sometimes bring you stories that may not be particularly relevant to working at height but they are just too good not to share with you. Today’s story is one of those – read on and we hope you enjoy a little light hearted entertainment on us.

We came across a news report from Greensboro in North Carolina that we thought was really inspirational. It’s a public art project by artist, Charlie Brouwer – a dome shaped sculpture made entirely of ladders. Charlie taught High School art classes for many years until retiring from teaching in 2008 in order to concentrate on making and exhibiting art on a full time basis. Ladders seem to feature quite prominently in his work and he’s led several of these public art projects involving ladders in several towns and cities in the United States.

Charlie encourages audience participation in his community projects and installations by inviting the communities he works with to lend him the ladders for the temporary installations he creates. He believes that the temporary nature of the installations allows for more experimentation, flexibility and a larger scale.

When Charlie rocked up in Greensboro schools, churches, businesses, scouts, local clubs, organisations and residents all got involved in the project which is called “Rise Together Greensboro”. People brought ladders of every type and made from all types of materials – aluminium, wood, plastic, old, new, small and tall, hand-made, shop-bought, plain and painted. Every ladder used in the sculpture had its own story to tell, including the following:

  • One man brought a ladder that he used to save his family from a house fire.
  • One couple loaned a three inch ladder from a toy Mack fire truck as the man had worked for Mack Trucks.
  • A ladder from the Fellowship Hall (a treatment centre for drug and alcohol addictions) included uplifting messages like “Family Forever”, “Thank you for saving my life” and “Never Stop Dreaming”.
  • A couple who had recently moved to Greensboro provided a handmade wooden ladder with the words “Community. Cooperation. Compassion” painted on it.

All of the ladders were used to construct a dome with three triangular openings so that visitors could walk around and underneath the structure – they were not allowed to climb on it though, you’ll be glad to hear!

The ladders were all held together with heavy duty cable ties and the ladders were supported by each other – in pretty much the same way as members of a community should support each other. This resulted in a symbolic resemblance between the structure and the community which worked together in order to create this interesting and innovative piece of temporary community art.