Swans in Flight
Sponsor: Privately Owned
In 2009, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation brought a monumental, world-class work of art to Edmond.
Installed in the 120-foot-long reflecting pool in front of Armstrong Auditorium, Swans in Flight is a bronze-and-steel sculpture by internationally renowned sculptor, Sir David Wynne (1926 – 2014).
The massive sculpture was unveiled in 1968 by Herbert W. Armstrong and English sculptor David Wynne at the Big Sandy, Texas campus of Ambassador College. The artist personally oversaw the installation of the five bronze swans in the east Texas piney woods near the city of Tyler.
Armstrong, who considered Wynne to be the greatest living sculptor in the world, commissioned him to sculpt several pieces for the Ambassador campuses in the late 1960s. In addition to Swans in Flight, Wynne created the soaring egret sculpture for the Pasadena, Calif., campus, which still stands in front of Ambassador Auditorium, and Nestling Swans, a white marble sculpture for the campus in Bricket Wood, England.
After the demise of Ambassador College, the Worldwide Church of God eventually sold the 1,600-acre Big Sandy campus in 2000 to the Green Family Trust, owner of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., of Oklahoma City, for an undisclosed sum. Green then transferred ownership to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a nonprofit educational ministry based in Oak Brook, Illinois, at the end of 2001. In November 2008, the Armstrong Foundation contacted the IBLP to inquire about purchasing the Swans in Flight sculpture. After several months of negotiations, the parties reached an agreement.
The swans, each weighing approximately three-quarters of a ton with wingspans from 13 to 15 feet, were disassembled and transported from Texas to Oklahoma, where they underwent minor repairs and refinishing at The Crucible Foundry before being installed in their new home in front of Armstrong Auditorium. Situated in a 40,000-gallon reflecting pool, they appear to soar into flight as six water jets cascade over them.
“We are very excited to be bringing a sculpture of this magnitude to Edmond,” said Stephen Flurry, vice-president of the Armstrong Foundation. “Our city is filled with public works of art and we certainly feel this piece by Sir David will add to the aesthetic beauty of our campus and become a landmark in the community.”
In 1994, Wynne was knighted for his outstanding work, which includes his most famous sculpture, Girl with Dolphin (1974) near London’s Tower Bridge and the royal seal on the gates of Hyde Park in honor of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday (1992). His work appears worldwide and includes numerous commissions by the royal family.
Wynne’s autobiography was published in the summer of 2010, just before he attended the inaugural ceremonies at Armstrong Auditorium September 3-5, 2010, where he personally unveiled Swans in Flight. David Wynne died September 4, 2014 in London at the age of 88. His life’s work continues to bring joy to millions around the world.