Lucama, North Carolina: Vollis Simpson's WhirligigsThe great wind-animated sculptures of Vollis Simpson, made of scrap metal and festooned with bicycle reflectors. Some stand 40 feet tall. Most will be moved to a park in nearby Wilson in late 2013.
Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs: For decades, handyman Vollis Simpson has been making giant "whirligigs" -- home-built junk-art contraptions designed to spin in the wind -- and mounting them on poles in a field next to his home in Lucama, North Carolina. [06/06/2010] Complete Story...
Visitor Tips and News About Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs
Out there yesterday, and yes, Mr Simpson was in his shop, which is still full of smaller versions of his work. Hard to converse, as he is quite hard of hearing, but we had a nice conversation and purchased a whirligig.
This is my second visit, and it is obvious that his pasture full of creations will not be around too much longer. A number of the large whirligigs in the pasture have already been removed (though there are still plenty more to see). Mr Simpson is an amazing guy, and what he has accomplished is incredible.
Check out the City of Wilson website, or google Whirligig park, to see where his creations will (hopefully) end up. They have posted a diagram of the proposed park. Also visit the whirligig festival in Wilson in November.[Whirligig Fan, 04/19/2011]
It was farther down the road than we expected, but there's no question you're in the right place when you get there -- gigantic whirligigs on the left side of the road. The gate looks locked and it's very heavy and hard to budge, but usually it's open and just needs to be lifted off the two prongs that hold it in place. Then you walk into a beautiful park next to a large pond and there they are astonishing!
Cross the lane and you'll probably find Simpson in his shop or just outside it, sitting in his chair with the Confederate flag pasted on the top and listening to Sean Hannity. Despite all that, he's a very sweet guy, very hospitable, and apologizing for not being able to show you around. Inside the shop are quite a few windmills and painted metal pieces for sale - we bought a windmill and a large metal disc with a bear painted on it (150 for the windmill and 20 for the bear, both from 2009). He insists on signing every piece in magic marker.
It's hard for him to walk now, but he's still working and still likes to talk to fans. It's great that the whirligigs will be preserved in Wilson, but they're perfect in their native location - if you possibly can, see them there. And then there's the likelihood of seeing Simpson himself, especially on a Saturday. Bring along a bag to collect the cans and bottles kids throw around the place - he does this cleanup himself, but it's hard for him. The trash is like a desecration.[Fran McCullough, 08/22/2010]
A half-hour south of Raleigh... amazing works of art -- recycled from discarded metal. This is a must see and well worth the drive!
We ran into a couple who were putting Vollis Simpson's work on film. They said that Wilson County plans to move his art to a property in 2012. Until then, you can swing by his house. We got there too late, but we were told that he'll show you around, including a variety of smaller pieces that are not out in the open.[eric schansberg, 07/19/2010]
My girlfriend Diane and I drove over the day after Thanksgiving and Mr. Simpson was at the shop. We toured the shop and had a nice long conversation.
Mr Simpson had a very bad accident and was severely burned as well as losing his front teeth in the hard fall. He declined to go through skin grafts and does exercises daily to keep the scar tissue flexible. He told of a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum where he has a large piece on display (that unfortunately needs some repair) where he got to sit with the MC, a gal named Madonna!
His shop is full of indoor pieces for sale, more windmills then whirligigs as they don't have moving art work as well as some interesting anatomically complete dogs and goats made from hardware. Diane and I each bought a signed piece. Given the discomfort he appeared to be in, I did not ask him to walk from the shop to open the gate. At least eight other visitors stopped by while we were there.[Ron, 12/06/2008]