Mechanical Riverfront Kingdom – Decatur, Georgia - Atlas Obscura

Mechanical Riverfront Kingdom

Decatur, Georgia

An unusual art exhibition in a suburban yard is designed to awaken the souls of those flowing by.  


In the congested traffic along a prominent Decatur thoroughfare, commuters may notice an unusual garden of giant metal sculptures, and a man playfully encouraging them to wake up from their lulled complacency. According the Clark Ashton, the exhibition’s sculptor and designer, the commuters are part of the “mechanical river,” and his garden, towers, and metal throne are all part of his Mechanical Riverfront Kingdom

Ashton has been creating giant metal sculptures in his yard since 1989, when he welded his first metal man, Adam, from scrap iron. Since then he has dedicated his efforts to building art that captures the attention of commuters. Over time, his installations grew more daring and now include two-story towers such as the Sky Saw, with a metal windmill at the top designed to cut a hole in the sky (so we can access the other side of consciousness). Nearby,  Sky Stitcher is designed to then heal the hole to avert any negative consequences. Visitors are invited to climb to the top of Control Tower, and even sit in the metal throne that overlooks the mechanical river. 

The interactive sculptures that fill Ashton’s front and back yards are meant to evoke reflection and stun people out of their routine thought patterns—especially when combined with his morning performance art. As if that wasn’t enough, Ashton also operates his home as an Airbnb, listed as Druid Hill, for people who want to experience the kingdom from within. 

Know Before You Go

The sculptures are free to visit. Ashton invites curious minds to park in his driveway and explore the sculptures, including those in the backyard. Be respectful of the privacy of the private home after hours.