Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine Features Short Eared Parliament

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - cover
Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - cover

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - Piece - Short Eared Parliament
Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - Piece - Short Eared Parliament

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015  - Carve - Shane Wilson
Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - Carve - Shane Wilson

Inspired by the North - the beauty and severity of its extremes - Vancouver Island based sculptor Shane Wilson breathes life into the discarded outer garments of arctic impermanence: antler, horn, ivory, tusk, and bone.
His signature style - the cool logic of a mathematician warmed in the guiding hands of a poet—lives in the uneasy conversation between organic and non-organic abstraction. 

Originally from Ontario, Wilson moved to northern British Columbia and then to the Yukon during the 1980s. Conversant in more traditional art forms - drawing, painting, clay sculpture - his interest in working with natural media was sparked after attending an exhibition of antler carvings, the rugged and tactile artifacts appealing to his sense of discovery.

After a short period of experimentation, Wilson honed the techniques necessary to express his unique vision while exploring the fragile limits of natural media as diverse as fossilized woolly mammoth tusk and whale baleen.

In 2012 Shane Wilson was commissioned by the internationally renowned design firm Yabu Pushelberg to create a signature showpiece for the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.  His stunning Candle Ice Two double-antler sculpture graces the west lobby.

“My intention is to create beautifully original sculpture, ethically and sustainably, directly from nature in found antler, horn, ivory, bone and bronze - the carving suggestive of a way forward for our rapidly changing planet, one in which we’ll create beautifully original solutions, ethically and sustainably, directly with nature.”‎

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015  - Art Feature - Shane Wilson
Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - Art Feature - Shane Wilson

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Passing of Friend and Mentor - Wolf Eberlein

Wolf Eberlein and Yukon Torch, July 1, 2006
Wolf Eberlein with the Yukon Torch, Canada Winter Games Torch Relay, 2006

I was very sorry to hear of Wolf Eberlein’s sudden passing. In the words of one of his many friends, “No one lived the Yukon like Wolf.” He was an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, guide, miner, pioneer, farmer, photographer, framer, friend and raconteur.

A few years ago, he bicycled around the world with his wife Glenda.

Wolf was encouraging to me in the early days of my art making, both by example, his photography of the Yukon was stunning, and by the kind words of encouragement, suggestion and insight which he shared from time to time.

Words that live with me still.

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Island Artist Makes the Most of a Difficult Situation

CBC - All Points West Banner

Robyn Burns: In the service industry, what do you do if someone orders something and then sends it back to the kitchen, because it’s not quite right. Well, take that scenario and apply it to a piece of art, that with the labour and materials costs around $300,000. Shane Wilson is dealing with that situation right now. He’s a sculptor from Nanoose Bay, who works with antlers, and he joins me in studio.


Robyn Burns: Hello!

Shane Wilson: Good afternoon, Robyn.

Robyn Burns: Thank you so much for coming in.

Shane Wilson: Thank you for the invitation.

Robyn Burns: Now I’ve heard about this piece. It was formerly known as Ahead of the Curves, can you describe it for us?

Shane Wilson: It’s a carved sculpture on two moose antlers. I find antlers incredibly, sculpturally interesting and very beautiful and so have worked within the natural design to create a non-representational pattern, refining the natural antler design in my own way, sculpturally. The design starts from the finger-like tines and creates curved pathways or ribbons, which interweave throughout the sculpture.

Robyn Burns: The sculpture is quite large, encompassing a full set of antlers, side by side. Is it about a meter high?

Shane Wilson: It’s almost a meter high and a meter and a half wide.

Robyn Burns: Why did you decide you wanted to produce such a large piece verses a smaller sculpture?

Shane Wilson: I normally work, especially on the larger pieces, by commission, since each piece can take two to four years to create, which is an awfully long time to do something on spec. This particular piece actually falls into that category. It was commissioned initially by Mr. Pink Art Consultants. In this particular case, they were working for a well known architect in Ontario, Hariri Pontarini, who were building a 36,000 square foot home on Lake Huron. Mr. Pink was curating an art collection of several hundred pieces to fill this home. There were very tight timelines - the piece had to be completed within four months. All the pieces were sourced on spec and subject to approval of the homeowner, Mike Lazaridis (of BlackBerry fame, now into quantum computing). When he reviewed the portfolio later in the project, my piece did not make the cut. I had designed it and begun carving it, so was left with the piece, which was disappointing, because it would have been really cool to be part of that collection. On the other hand, it gave me an opportunity to refine the design, to make it better and to work on it for a longer period of time - and hopefully make it available to a better home.

Robyn Burns: Could you familiarize me with the process when you are approached by an art curator who’s trying to find the right pieces for a large scale home? Were you at a financial loss when they did not select your piece? Did they at least offer you some compensation?

Shane Wilson: No, but that was part of the deal. I was all in, despite the fact that it might mean that I would not be successful and not receive compensation.

Robyn Burns: So it was a gamble?

Shane Wilson: Yes, of course.

Robyn Burns: Had you ever done something like that before?

Shane Wilson: I’ve been involved in commissions that have gone part way along and then stopped, but this is the first time that I’ve done something of this scale. I had worked with one of the consultants before on the Four Seasons Toronto Hotel project. At that time, I was engaged to do another double antler piece, called Candle Ice, which is now in the lobby there. So, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Robyn Burns: But you had essentially gone into it and expedited your work schedule, because, as you said, you normally do pieces over a longer amount of time, verses this four month window you’d been given. I know its a gamble to be part of something like this, but to not win out on it by having your piece selected and purchased, you’re left with this very expensive piece on your hands - so how do go on from that to try and find the right owner for this $300,000 piece?

Shane Wilson: Because I believe in the piece and love what’s happening in it - it’s along design lines I’ve been thinking about working on for a couple of decades - I decided to bite the bullet, take my carving tools, go home and keep going and work to find the right home for it.

Robyn Burns: This is new territory for you in selling your piece. Is this something you want to do again, in terms of making such a large scale piece and then trying to find a buyer afterwords?

Shane Wilson: I think so, and that’s partly what I was alluding to before. I’ve been working now at carved sculpture for about 20 years and have passed the 10,000 hour mark, which is that cool timeline where you develop a unique voice, competence, world-class abilities, so they say. Throughout my career so far, I’ve done for work for other people, often with significant input and vision from those other people. During that time I’ve had all kinds of cool ideas that I’ve wanted to do on my own, not unlike every artist I suppose, the difference being that each of these piece will take between 2 to 5 years, so it is quite a commitment on spec. That said, when this piece completes and goes to sale, I’d like to do it again and will probably follow a similar process.

Robyn Burns: Interesting! This is a whole new world for you, and for many artists, I suppose, to work that way when it comes to large pieces.

Shane Wilson: I imagine so!

Robyn Burns: Are you scared?

Shane Wilson: Yes, at the back of your mind you wonder - what if it doesn’t work? But much in life is like that, you just have to take a chance, you have to risk and put yourself out there and see what happens, because often really neat things happen. And I’m hoping for the same.

Robyn Burns: I like your perspective! Now in terms of this piece, it’s not called Ahead of the Curves anymore, what are you calling it?

Shane Wilson: I’m calling it Borealis and Oreithyia. And what does that mean?

Robyn Burns: I know what Borealis means, but what about Oreithyia? I’m not familiar with that word. (see Note below)

Shane Wilson: Borealis comes from aurora borealis, and if you look at the sculpture it’s reminiscent of the northern lights. I can remember living in the Yukon (and, you’re from the north, from Yellowknife, so you’d be familiar) and there were nights when you could walk into the stillness and into the dark and the sky would be alive with these bands of light that would twirl and overlap and almost seem like an intelligence in the sky - just a real presence - and so the sculpture reminds me of that. So in searching for a new name, because the original name ‘Ahead of the Curves’ was meant more for Mike Lazaridis, because he’s ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking about technology, in terms of the Blackberry, in terms of quantum computing and so it was kind of a pun on the curvy nature of the sculpture and his headspace. Because the sculpture is not for him anymore, I wanted to rename it to something that was more meaningful to myself.

Robyn Burns: Well Shane, best of luck to you!

Shane Wilson: Thank you Robyn!


Robyn Burns: That was Shane Wilson, he’s a sculptor from Nanoose Bay who works mainly with antlers. To see the photo of his piece, head to our Facebook page, CBC Vancouver Island, we’ll have a photo of it there. Or visit his website: shanewilson.com

Note: Oreithya was the name of the Greek goddess of mountain winds, taken to wife by Boreas (Borealis), Greek god of the north wind and namesake of many things northern - boreal forest, aurora borealis, etc. Their daughter, Khione, became the Greek goddess of snow.

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Nanoose Bay Studio Showcase - May 2-3, 2015

Come out and see the wonderful work of Nanoose Bay artists and artisans - May 2 - 3, 2015 (10am to 4pm)!

Nanoose Bay Studio Showcase - May 2-3, 2015 poster

The Nanoose Bay Studio Showcase 2015 will take place at the Nanoose Place Hall, 2925 Northwest Bay Road, in downtown Nanoose Bay, BC.

I’ll be displaying ‘Borealis and Oreithyia’ (in progress) and holding a draw for one of my vintage ‘Duality’ prints from the turn of the millennium. Framed, of course.

See you there!

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Yukon Hospital Foundation - MRI Suite Opened with Tundra Swan at Entrance

'Tundra Swan' by Shane Wilson on permanent display outside the new MRI Suite in the Whitehorse General Hospital.

Harmony Hunter, Manager, Partnership and Engagement, Yukon Hospital Foundation
tweets/sharesTundra Swan by Shane Wilson is proudly displayed at the entrance of the brand new MRI Suite at Whitehorse General Hospital.”

“We are very pleased to have found a permanent home for this incredible piece of art in a prominent location, especially since it was commissioned for the ‘Under Our Wing’ Campaign which included raising funds for the MRI.”

“Many thanks to the First Nations Health Program for assisting us with getting the sculpture up on the wall! Thank you for sharing your talents Shane!”

Yukon Hospital Foundation's 'Under Our Wing' poster, featuring 'Tundra Swan' by Shane Wilson

When I carved Tundra Swan for the Foundation’s 'Under Our Wing' fundraising campaign poster in 2005, it was my hope that the sculpture would find a permanent home with the great Yukon art displayed throughout Whitehorse General Hospital. And now it has!

Thank you to the Yukon Hospital Foundation​ and the Whitehorse General Hospital for this great honour!

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