6 June 2015



Beating his wings harder and harder, Icarus soared up into the sky and out over the Aegean Sea. It was hard to believe the plan had worked. For here he was now, flying alongside his father Daedulus, as they left the island of Crete behind them and travelled on towards their freedom. Icarus glanced over his shoulder at his father and grinned. “Come along, Father,” he shouted over the sound of the wind rushing past them. “Smile, we’ve done it ! we’ve escaped! We’re free !

The tale of Icarus may have long served as a cautionary tale serving to warn of the dangers of over ambition and the foolishness of human arrogance to dare and try emulate the birds of the sky. However it’s moral seems to be lost on our newest resident Jon Sasaki.

 Hailing from Toronto Jon is the latest recipient of the highly sought after Glenfiddich Canadian art award. His previous projects embrace risk and even court failure. This in built futility is typified in his recent attempt to stack five bouncy castles on top of each other.

So in keeping with his fool hardy spirit, for his residency project Jon will attempt to build and fly from scratch a single seat ultralight aircraft.

The craze for ultralight self-built aircraft that swept across north America and Canada in the 1970s gave rise to many innovative designs. These allowed the dedicated amateur the opportunity to build either in kit form or from self-sourced materials a basic but (technically) functional flying machine- although as the names weed and wood hopper suggest and the video below demonstrates these are not high flying machines.

The plans for one such craft, known as the woodhopper, were even published in Popular Mechanics magazine. It is these plans still available today as a download that Jon will use over the coming weeks.

The woodhopper was only ever available in plan form and was an adaption of a kit form craft known as the weedhopper. It used wood and polystyrene rather than the aluminium and steel of its predecessor.  Indeed one major feature of the woodhopper was the minimal need for specialist materials with pretty much everything you needed being freely available from hardware shops and builders merchants making it a realistic DIY project.

 Jon feels his project has as much chance of success at Glenfiddich than anywhere else, if not more. As Jon himself says Glenfiddich feels like a place with risks can be taken.

 “I am interested in the Romantic ideal of the solitary individual, the exceptional singular. Most proponents of Romanticism understood that there are some heights that can be climbed only by an individual and not a group. Indeed Glenfiddich has, for over a century made a compelling argument for the appeal of the singular. The Romantic movement in Scotland dovetailed with amazing technological advancements, world changing Scottish innovations that were often made by solitary inventors in DIY workshops.”

Currently represented by Jessica Bradley Gallery in Toronto some of Jon’s previous works can be seen by visiting his website.