Here is a video showing the incredible Vollis Simpson Whirligigs. I shot this footage one late winter morning in 2009 outside of Wilson NC. I’m posting it as a tribute to Mr. Simpson who was just recently called to rest. Many thanks to him for creating these awe inspiring works of art for others to enjoy.
The Lucama farm in which he built and displayed these massive and wondrous creations called “Whirligigs” became a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. Folks would visit to see these amazing windmill like structures that were constructed of scrap metal and the odds and ends left over from others.
Mr. Simpson would use old signs, car parts, farm machinery, and almost anything else to weld together and erect what would become a true marvel. The structures were brilliantly painted and adorned with windmills, gears, reflectors, and characters that seemed to come alive with every breeze and explode into a symphony of spinning, whirring, and jingling when the wind blew hard.
He completed and erected these works of engineering single-handedly using the farm equipment his family had, to do what would seem impossible for one man. He was thought to be somewhat mad at first, as most great artist are, until this roadside field sprouted work after work of towering, turning wonder.
People came from all over to see these interesting “machines” and those lucky enough to have seen them will never forget it. Over the years the field became known as “Acid Park” by younger visitors, due to the psychedelic affects created by late night visits under the glow of the moon. Strange references or not, the Whirligig Farm entertained and inspired people of all ages through the years.
Simpson’s Whirligigs became so popular the area started having a Whirligig Festival to celebrate their uniqueness and the joy they provided to the people of the area. He often donated some of his works to various sites and causes, as well as, commissioned pieces for large business campuses and even private homes. You can see some of his whirligigs in downtown Wilson attached to buildings, in parks, and on the library lawn.
He must have been divinely inspired to make all of these works, like a modern day Noah, or someone driven by a vision. He would spend over ten years on weekends working, welding, painting, and creating before the field reached its somewhat complete state. However, there were many finishing touches and changes going on, not to mention the maintenance.
We thank you Vollis Simpson for the gifts you gave so many. You are a true artist and your Whirligigs will live on!