This week saw Kenny Hunter’s Black Swan finally migrate from Barnwell Country Park. After previously visiting Corby’s Thoroughsale Woods as part of Beyond Seven Mountains, Black Swan arrived at Barnwell in July 2016, where he was immediately christened ‘Jeff’ by the park rangers.
In 2007, the writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the phrase ‘Black Swan Theory’, which he used to describe any event that is unexpected and makes a strong impact. This was certainly true for this black swan, as Jeff proved to be a popular feature for users of the park.
Before the discovery of Australia, Europeans were convinced that all swans were white, and the phrase ‘Black Swan’ was a common expression of a statement of impossibility. As dog walkers had come to terms with the certainty of Jeff at Barnwell Country Park for the past two years, they may still have regarded it as an impossibly that this swan would one day fly.
Arriving as the mists cleared over the adjacent lake, the lorry, which would be Jeff’s chauffeur back to the foundry in Liverpool, quickly extended it’s loader crane arm above the sculpture, with straps secured carefully around Jeff’s torso.
Then in a moment of beautiful choreography and structural engineering, the crane operator, using a remotely controlled winch, lifted the sculpture out of the ground and within minutes it was lying horizontally on the cargo bed of the lorry. The gathering crowd of onlookers would testify that on this occasion Black Swan did indeed fly.
After a couple of obligatory selfies with Jeff, visitors expressed sadness that the sculpture, which had infiltrated their everyday, was now leaving. Black Swan’s send off was also marked by a bevy of white swans sailing past respectfully.
As the swan-clad lorry pulled out of the park grounds the park ranger quite movingly waved goodbye before Jeff disappeared, no doubt to the surprise of onlookers on the M5.
Thank you to all at Barnwell Country Park for your care, attention and affection towards Jeff over the past two years.