In Suspended Animation 9



‘Driftwood’  1994     pine, ropes, steel frame, zinc sand filled water bottles   125 x 170 x 200 cm


The use of the crabs claw as a symbol of mindless aggression or cause of pain was explored by Marcelle Spängberg in a series of small sculptures, made about 1990.

Martin was at the time well acqainted as well as intrigued by her and her work.

In 1993 Martin Helm was given a small claw by his collegue Jan Reinhardt, who knew of the artsts fascination with mechanical principles found in Nature. Martin studied its efficient use of geometry and interlocking shapes combining the greatest variation in movent with economic use of materials.

first sketch of the hinged structure of the crab’s claw based on 4 sections, one of which is a triangle


Nature had made something which need not be improved upon…

The apparent simplicity proved in reality to be highly sophisticated, and a challenge to reproduce on a larger scale.

Seasoned blocks of old pine wood were chiselled in four segments, then shaped to imitate nature as truthfully as the material permitted.

The result is a working model on a larger-than-life scale. It hangs balanced within the steel frame, it equilibrium maintained by counterweights of beach-sand filled bottles. It floats peacefully untill one of the counterweights is moved. It then startles the spectator with a series of twisting and snapping motions, suddenly seeming embued with life.

the claw in action


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