Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - cover
Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - Spring/Summer 2015 - Piece - Short Eared Parliament
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
BY ROSS ARMOUR
By the end of the summer, a sculpture artist based in Nanoose Bay will have completed his latest piece valued at $320,000, which is entirely made up of carved moose antler.
Back in November 2013, Shane Wilson, 54, began working on Borealis and Oreithyia (formerly Ahead of the Curves) after acquiring a load of moose antler from the wild during his days in the Yukon, where he lived for 22 years.
He has been on the Island since 2007.
With upward of 200,000 moose in the Yukon, Wilson said people who hunt the animal for food would then have no use for the antlers and come drop them on his doorstep to put to use.
It was back in 1985 when Wilson first came across a carved antler piece, in the Yukon Gallery, which illustrated birds by Maureen Morris. He has been hooked on the art form ever since.
"I love the shape, power and beauty of found antlers and bones," said Wilson. "To me they represent the absolute triumph of life in an incomprehensibly vast universe. I delight in transforming them into fine art, expressions of the highest order, objects of rare beauty."
The sculpture is named after the Greek god of the north wind and his wife and the inspiration came from Wilson's views of the northern lights which he says were a regular occurrence from his days in the north.
He uses a variety of power tools, grinders and burrs to operate in his work. "Antler isn't particularly hard to carve with power tools. Care when carving is required, because it's not a consistent material all the way through."
"Though each of my sculptures are unique, carrying their own story and meaning, I employ common themes or design elements which function as a sculptural language. The two basic elements of this sculptural language are the curved and the angled shapes or patterns which represent duality, 'the dance of polar opposites' which form the basic nature of reality as experienced by the self-conscious, mortal soul."
Wilson says the $320,000 price tag is a combination of time spent on the work, time spent in the art form and the originality of the piece.
"When I make art, I work hard to create something of value, something original, beautiful, meaningful, universal. Something which I hope contributes to the human project and captures something of the spirit of those who live in a manner that leave the world a better, richer, more beautiful place."
Wilson says he hopes the art form can be attributed to a variety of things by different sets of people due to its abstract nature.
For more information on Wilson and his work visit www.shanewilson.com.
- See the article in The Nanaimo Daily News Digital Edition
(photo by Jessica Skelton)
STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVES
After 20 years of carving commissioned sculptures, artist Shane Wilson decided to take his first major personal project off the back burner. He then turned to The Artist Project to help him connect with a potential buyer.
by Jessica Skelton
Ahead of the Curves, the latest sculpture by Nanoose Bay artist Shane Wilson, will sell for an estimated $320,000. That's nearly the average sale price for a single-family home in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area.
"It's probably the most beautiful I've done," he said of the piece, which is equivalently priced to his other work based on time and material. "I want this to appear simple and sublime, but it's really quite complex."
The sculpture is a pair of moose antlers, mounted side-by-side, carved into a curvy, inter-lapping design that flows between the two pieces. "Your eyes can take different paths," Wilson said. "You get lost in the endless curve."
While the piece's design is continuously refined, Ahead of the Curves is a calculated work that took shape long before Wilson picked up his electric Dremel tools. "I can't experiment," he said. "I can only take things away. You have to have things imagined beforehand."
This forethought is particularly important, Wilson said, when working with the multiple planes of moose antlers. "The designs don't always read as you intend," he said. "It's (about) playing with the curves and distortions so that the piece looks right from every direction."
Wilson estimates that the entire sculpture will take 700 hours over two years to finish, of which he's completed 400 hours since Nov. 2013.
Ahead of the Curves is the first in a series of major personal carvings, including one on a mammoth tusk, that Wilson has envisioned for the past 20 years while busying himself with mainly commissioned work.
"They were always on the back burner," he said. "I thought, 'If I don't take the time now, I might never do it.'"
To do such a large piece without a prior financial security is "a bit of a departure," he admits. And to ensure this "significant investment" of time and effort doesn't go to waste, Wilson recently partnered with The Artist Project(TAP) to market the work.
TAP is a Yukon-based organization founded by Susan Stanley and her husband Allan Nixon in 2014 to represent and manage Northern artists whose work inspires them.
"It's rather a selfish project," said Stanley, who previously worked for CBC radio. "If I believe in the art, I think others will believe in it too."
TAP provides services like selling and promoting particular pieces of art, creating business plans, helping with accounting and representing artists at events like gallery openings and receptions. In Wilson's case, TAP will also produce an interactive website that details the evolution of Ahead of the Curves from concept to completion in order to connect him with the public and a potential buyer.
"Artists are in so much need of representation," Stanley said. "It's too labour intensive for many artists (to do art and promotions)." She also added that many artists have a hard time promoting themselves.
Stanley said she and Nixon are also excited to work with Wilson because, like the other artists they represent, his work inspires "some sort of change."
For Wilson, that change has to do with sustainability. "I work within the bounds of nature," he said, adding that the natural materials he uses — which range from horn and antler to ivory and teeth — are not harvested illegally or purposely for his art. Some were naturally shed, others were found on animal remains and some were the byproduct of food hunting.
Wilson said he also strives for his art to be sustainable in the sense that it is timeless and will be considered beautiful by generations to come.
"It's not gimmicky," he said. "I'm building value back into art."
Although Wilson and his family left the Yukon for B.C. in 2007, he still considers himself a Northern artist. "I lived in the North most of my life," he said, adding that his carving was "born" in that part of Canada.
Wilson started carving in 1993 while he was working as an Anglican minister in small Northern towns. "My life has been concerned with meaning and sharing meaning," he said, adding that he left the priesthood after 10 years in part due to the fact he found himself no longer believing that meaning comes "from outside oneself."
"We (humans) create meaning," he said. "My art is about sharing the meaning I found within."
And when Ahead of the Curves is finished sometime next year, the artist hopes someone will connect with that meaning enough to take his sculpture home.
PDF Version PQB News - Staying Ahead of the Curves
I was approached recently by Natural Landscape Magazine to be part of their 2015 Spring/Summer issue, as one of the featured visual artists.
It is a great publication, which explores the challenges of outdoor living and landscaping in Canada, elegantly and creatively. They take landscaping seriously as an art form, promoting the awesome professionals in that field.
The visual artist feature is a nice touch, an accent, which speaks clearly about the place of imagination in the creation of fine landscape.
Note: The magazine is in the process of rebranding. The Spring/Summer issue will be published as Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine.
Candle Ice, 1999, Yukon Arts Centre Gallery Permanent Collection
“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.”
Shane Wilson –Artist Statement
Organic and non-organic forms and materials co-exist within master carver Shane Wilson’s powerful carvings of horn, ivory, antler and bronze. The carvings are abstracted, sleek and refined, yet his materials, such as mammoth ivory, might be up to 40 000 years old and their original shape is rough.
Formerly based in the Yukon for many years, residing in Whitehorse and Faro, Wilson’s work is held in the Yukon Government Permanent Art Collection, the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection, the Haines Junction Permanent Art Collection and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Contemporary Art Collection amongst others.
Wilson’s signature duality is evident in the Yukon Art Centre’s Permanent Art Collection piece Candle Ice, a smooth moose antler carved into jagged triangular shapes that resemble daggers of ice like those found alongside a frozen river. The smooth precision of the carving is a transformation of the original antler, likely shed by a moose just after mating season.
Many viewers wonder if the piece is made of one solid piece of antler, or if it was created with multiple pieces of antler adhered together. Impressively, Candle Ice was carved as one individual form with geometric shapes created out of the core naturally shaped antler.
In 2012, the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto commissioned Wilson to re-create Candle Ice for the lobby of their Hotel. The following video shows the incredible transformation of raw material into spectacular sculpture, and the installation in its current location.
Where can you spot Wilson’s artwork around the Yukon?
Yukon Seasons, Yukon Government Permanent Collection, located on the second floor of the Canada Games Centre:
Canada Winter Games Yukon Torch (2007), located at the Canada Games Centre, overlooking the Flexihall and the Soccer Field:
Candle Ice (1999) located in the Lobby of the Yukon Arts Centre:
The Shooting of Dan McGrew (2004) by Shane Wilson and Dwayne Cull, located in the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. This piece is made of mammoth ivory, mahogany and gold nugget:
Gaia (2009) from the Skullpture Series, made of moose antler and bronze. This piece is on display at the St. Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction along with a collection of bronze sculptures from the same series, as part of the Haines Junction Permanent Art Collection:
Learn more about Shane Wilson and see more of his artwork at his personal artist website, www.shanewilson.com
Bone and Antler Carving
Shane Wilson of Canada is a true master of antler and bone carving. The principles he uses in is work are very similar to those used in gourd carving. Because antler and gourds aren't always thick, you have to learn to maximize the relief carving to give the greatest illusion of depth.
In the you tube video he demos carving on a piece of mammoth ivory. He uses a Foredom tool for heavy rough out and a micromotor tool for detail carving. You can see more of his work on his website.
“Short Eared Parliament” - Moose Antler carving by Shane Wilson
(Art Takes Times Square, cover)
It was a great pleasure to participate in the 2012 happening, Art Takes Times Square. A book to commemorate the event has been published by the organizers and arrived today.
I enjoyed perusing the pages, appreciating images from around the world; a timely collection of artists’ work, hundreds strong, preserved for posterity.
(Art Takes Times Square, ‘Celtic Confusion’ by Shane Wilson, p.102)
LINK: ‘Fine Art at Four Seasons’ (online version of article)
by Elaine Glusac
Justly proud of their country, Canadians cherish the wilderness that stretches from Atlantic to Pacific, Arctic to Great Plains. The expression of that pride is known as Canadiana, and it is newly surging in everything from organic interior decor to forage-focused restaurants that serve upscale earthbound fare.
Evoking a sense of place in refined rather than broad strokes, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto presents Canadiana by way of its extensive contemporary art collection. That collection comprises more than 1,700 works from established and emerging Canadian artists.
Four Seasons Magazine, Issue 2, 2013, ‘True North’, p 166 - images this page: Pascale Girardin’s glazed porcelain coral installation (top); Shane Wilson’s Candle Ice (centre); a large-scale charcoal drawing by Sondra Meszaros (bottom), (photography - this page, centre - courtesy Shane Wilson, all other photos courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts)
When Toronto- and London-based art consultant James Robertson took on the task of curating the Four Seasons flagship, he says, Canadiana immediately came to mind as a unifying theme. “If you’re coming to Canada from abroad and staying in a downtown hotel, I felt you should get a sense of how incredible the nature is, but really as a minimalist nod,” he says. “It should be subtle and clever, evoking wilderness, but not in your face.”
Nature as a motif emerges in abstractions such as the luminous lake painted onto white gold by New York-based Paul Hunter or powerful trees done in tar by Alberta-born Attila Richard Lukacs. Sometimes the reference is more direct, as in the central installation of whole and partial dandelion seed heads dangling over the two-storey-high reception area like a statement piece of jewellery. “I think nature is a deep-seated element in the Canadian consciousness because so much of Canada is wilderness,” says Toronto artist Alissa Coe, creator of the centrepiece sculptures. “It’s part of our mythology. You can see it through all the works chosen. There’s a dreamlike, natural quality to them.”
Four Seasons Magazine, Issue 2, 2013, ‘True North’, p 167 - image this page: Alissa Coe’s dandelion sculptures
Even the most representational pieces tap into the imagination. In the case of Candle Ice, British Columbia-based Shane Wilson carved two moose antlers in angular shards, patterned abstractly after the fragile fall and spring ice (candle ice) that forms, breaks apart and piles up. “It’s a living material,” says Wilson, who worked for 400 hours over nine months on the piece, using antlers he found in the Yukon. “I feel privileged to work with it, because it is created by life itself.”
Screenshot of online version of Four Seasons Magazine article, entitled ‘Fine Art at Four Seasons Toronto’
Serena Kovalosky embarked on a project this past year to write about a different aspect of art making each day. She featured my work on Day 15 . She used the images of 'Gaia' and 'Dall Sheep 1' to consider the question:
"In a world hell-bent on moving faster, can artists teach the value of slow?"
Serena's answer: "Art has taught me patience. My sculptures take their time coming into this world. They don’t explode on the scene expecting to be immediately applauded. They humbly arrive at a pace all their own, despite my urging to please hurry up.
"Most of my work takes weeks or months to accomplish. And some pieces are created in less than a day. Regardless of how long it takes, the artwork I create now is the result of decades of previous work. Each sculpture sits on the shoulders of the ones that came before. There are no instant miracles.
"And when my work is ready to meet the world, I must always find ways to make sure people can take the time to properly experience it. I must help them leave their bustling world behind so they can step for a moment into mine. It is always worth it."
At the end of the year Serena created the following tribute video, which in her words "encompasses everything the 365-Day project was about: the celebration of artists and the creative mind."
"A good artist can save his own life. A great artist can save someone else's life." Leslie Park, Painter (from the video - 'Gaia' by Shane Wilson, min 1:34)
He then displays the two images together in a project he is calling 'From Portrait to Self Portrait.'
He has released the first volume of these images, is about to release the second volume and the third is in the works.
The images below will appear in the third volume.
'Shane Wilson - Self Portrait 2012' by Shane Wilson (original photo, below, by Antonio Nodar)
Shane Wilson - Portrait 2000 (Photo by Antonio Nodar)
(Wildlife Art Journal, screenshot)
REVISITING SHANE WILSON'S JOURNEY WITH FOUND ORGANIC OBJECTS: Canadian Artist is Winning Cosmopolitan Collectors Drawn To His Contemporary Designs
Written by Todd Wilkinson
Posted: November 7th 2011
"I live through my hands and tools: transforming thick, heavy bone and bronze, meant for massive collisions, into ethereal, otherworldly creations; precious oases in the midst of life." —Shane Wilson
A while back, Wildlife Art Journal magazine profiled Canadian sculptor and carver Shane Wilson. In the months that have passed since, his base of avid collectors has continued to grow. Some readers have asked us to highlight the story again in the wake of his work being featured in other magazines and following a successful showing of his work in Canada's famous Algonquin Park. You can access the WAJ story by clicking here .
Like the work above, a portrayal of tundra swans intricately carved from the 50,000-year-old tusk of a woolly mammoth, Wilson has amassed a body of work, based on found organic materials, that sets him apart among contemporary wildlife artists. In many ways, he borrows from the aboriginal traditions of artisans in the Far North and yet he bestows his tactile pieces with a modern edge.
Said Wilson earlier this year to an interview with the Algonquin Arts Centre where his works were on public exhibition: "Meaning is important to me. Original art expresses a coherent language, a language of the right-brain, whose syntax is colour, texture, form and symbol, grasped intuitively. I delight in taking found skulls, horns, antlers and bones and transforming them into fine art, expressions of the highest order, objects of rare beauty."
What Wilson does with the antlers and horns of big game animals he finds in the wild is nothing short of remarkable. He transcends the limitations of what some would consider folk or sporting art and creates pieces that are worthy of display in museums. He also takes grizzly and black bear skulls, as well as those of wolves and wolverine, casts them in bronze, then bestows them with alluring ornamentation and patinas. They have a tribal and primitive look. The people who collect and commission them aren't confined to just hunters. His collectors includes urban connoisseurs who have cosmopolitan fine art tastes and see in Wilson's work something that is both novel and likely to spark a conversation.
Ice Floe II - cover, University of Alaska Press, 2011
Ice Floe II - back cover, University of Alaska Press, 2011
Ice Floe II
International Poetry of the Far North
Edited by Shannon Gramse & Sarah Kirk
The long-awaited second volume of the newly revived Ice Floe series, Ice Floe II features new and exciting works of poetry from a vibrant and diverse group of writers from Alaska, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Iceland, and beyond. All work is presented in both its original language and in English translation. With contributors that include former Alaska poet laureate Tom Sexton, Riina Katajavuori, Yuri Vaella, Gunnar Randversson, and dozens of other established and emerging poets, this wonderful collection of voices from the northern latitudes will be a great read for all lovers of poetry and international literature.
“In the coldest reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, poetry is still heartily embraced....Ice Floe is a thoughtful collection on life in the cold, and proves to be quite the read.”—Midwest Book Review
Shannon Gramse is a poet and cofounder of Ice Floe. Sarah Kirk is a life-long Alaskan and cofounder of Ice Floe. They both teach English at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Branch Magazine is a national quarterly online magazine devoted to exploring the rifts and overlaps of visual and literary arts while showcasing emerging and professional Canadian artists and creators. Branch features contemporary literature, art and design and aims to produce a compelling panoply of art in different media. Kudos to founding editors Gillian Sze (Literary Editor) and Rob Huynh (Roberutsu - Visual Arts and Design Editor). Shane's studio if featured in the Artist Workspace section of this Issue.
ARTIST WORKSPACE, Branch Magazine: Private Parts, July 2011
SHANE WILSON "This is my space. A tad dusty. But therein lies the creativity." (Check out Shane's feature interview in our WILD issue.)
Shane Wilson's studio.
ALGONQUIN ART CENTRE BLOG
Interview with Shane Wilson
Interview by Joel Irwin; Web Design by Matt Coles
i) Your works transform natural objects into complex, artistic expressions. Can you explain the influence of the “natural” over your artistic designs?
I carve animal-based natural found objects: skulls, antlers, horns and tusks. These objects inspire me by their inherent beauty and grace. Each one forms a unique, ‘living’ armature upon which I create my abstracted sculptures, giving form to my thoughts and feelings about existence, consciousness, and meaning.
In the case of the bronze ‘Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011’, which will be displayed at the Algonquin Arts Centre, the ‘natural’ provides a very specific additional influence. It takes ‘Forests’ as its primary theme. The unique (1 of 1) bronzes employ design elements from trees native to Algonquin Park worked into animal skulls, also native to the Park, which symbolize the symbiotic relationship between the forests and much of life on this planet.
Black Bear Birch - Bronze
ii) Is the concept of metamorphosis significant for your works? If so, how?
I delight in taking found skulls, horns, antlers and bones and transforming them into fine art, expressions of the highest order, objects of rare beauty. The process of transformation is documented on my website, www.shanewilson.com, on the ‘In Progress’ page, where the metamorphosis from lichen covered bone to radiantly pure sculpture is revealed in word and image.
iii) The poet Gillian Sze has described a magical and enchanting quality to your work. What, do you think, is the source of such a quality in your pieces?
I confess both surprise and joy at some of the unique reactions to my work. It may be a sign that the works have taken on a life of their own, creating impressions and making connections not foreseen or intended. Like children do, once away from home and out in the world.
Freeman Patterson, the great Canadian photographer, describes a childhood experience during a recent Ideas interview on CBC which may shed some light on this question. Farm life left his family little spare time for niceties, including Christmas. But, according to Sherman, his mother wanted to make the day special, so “she trimmed the Christmas Tree after I and my younger sister went to bed. God knows I don’t think she slept that night, but she would trim it with such magnificence and care that it was sheer magic when we woke up on Christmas morning. We thought Santa Claus had trimmed the tree.”
The Algonquin Art Centre is featuring three new works from acclaimed sculptor, Shane Wilson. Shane's work transforms natural materials, such as skulls, antlers, horns and tusks, into complex works of art -- works which express the beautiful designs contained in the natural objects themselves. "These objects inspire me by their inherent beauty and grace," says Shane. "Each one forms a unique, 'living' armature upon which I create my abstracted sculptures, giving form to my thoughts and feelings about existence, consciousness, and meaning."
The featured works for the Centre's 2011 exhibit, "International Year of Forests", explore the inherent relations between forests and wildlife. These bronze carvings are part of Shane's "Skullpture Series" -- a series which includes the cast, carved skulls of bears, wolves, and humans -- and they illustrate the widespread presence of our forests. "These pieces take forests as their primary theme," says Shane. "The unique bronzes employ design elements from trees native to Algonquin Park worked into animal skulls, also native to the Park, which symbolize the symbiotic relationship between forests and much of life on this planet."
Shane is quickly becoming an artist of renown in Canada and abroad. His works not only convey the visionary qualities which have defined our greatest artists, but also express a new and original understanding of art and the natural world -- an understanding of particular importance for today's world, when relations between people and their environments are being redefined, or, to put it in Shane's terms, recast.
For an exclusive interview with Shane Wilson, check out our June E-newsletter (subscribe through our website), or simply check our June Blog entry.
Branch Magazine is a national quarterly online magazine devoted to exploring the rifts and overlaps of visual and literary arts while showcasing emerging and professional Canadian artists and creators. Branch features contemporary literature, art and design and aims to produce a compelling panoply of art in different media. Kudos to founding editors Gillian Sze (Literary Editor) and Rob Huynh (Roberutsu - Visual Arts and Design Editor). Shane is the Featured Artist in this Issue.
Guest editorial by Alison Strumberger
When Gillian and Rob asked me to guest edit the Wild issue of Branch I was stoked...
It is the Canadian Wild that makes for such a talented bunch of maple syrup-loving, toque-wearing, snowshoe-owning, campfire-building writers and artists, and we are pleased as punch to be showcasing a number of them in this issue...
We are pleased to spotlight returning artist, Shane Wilson, whose intricate sculptures will astound you. We ask him about the ins-and-outs of sculpting and his relationship with his materials...
Thoreau once said, "All good things are wild, and free." We don't like to brag (much), but this issue is pretty darn good. Enjoy, and let your imagination run wild.
FEATURE ARTIST - SHANE WILSON
Q & A WITH SHANE WILSON
If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?
If I were an animal ... well, I am! The thing I treasure about being a human animal is the ability to think deeply about life and to appreciate the deep thoughts of others of my species.
However, if I were to choose to be a different animal, I think I'd choose to be one of the great whales. When I learned that US Naval tracking stations had been recording whale sounds for years, that a Blue Whale, departing from northern waters, can create a sonic pulse illuminating the entire Atlantic Basin and navigate accordingly, I just thought that was an amazingly cool thing and wanted to be one. And it goes without saying that whales think deep thoughts. After all, who can forget that brilliant treatise on existence worked out by the improbably created sperm whale as it plummeted through the atmosphere of an alien planet?
Why did you become an artist?
Like Jonah fleeing the will of God, I pursued a number of proper careers (briefly and with varying degrees of success) before being tossed overboard for the last time and swallowed body and soul by the great art leviathan.
I make art because I must. Yet still I try to avoid the making of it on a daily basis, paradoxically finding peace and well being only in the throes of creation. I like to think of this dynamic as a war between the right and left brain - the left, the everyday practical portion where I spend most of my life, does not want to relinquish control to the right, the mysterious region of creativity where 'the everyday', including time itself, does not exist. Perhaps the struggle finds expression in my art, in the notion of 'Duality'.
Aristotle said that art takes nature as its model. You model nature into art. Do you remember the first time you carved an antler? How did that begin?
Antlers, bones and skulls are natural sculptural wonders. Not just in the sense that wind and weather shape a rock or a tree, but more so. These are shapes that are sculpted and inhabited by Life. When I encountered the amazing antler art of Maureen Morris in 1985, I realized that it was possible to combine my interest in sculptural creation with these living sculptures.
What are you proudest of achieving as an artist?
A good day in the studio.
Some sculptors say that they can see the sculpture in a piece of wood or rock. Is that the case for you?
Sure. But the sculpture seen 'within' the stone is usually drawn from an interaction with the sculptor's own inner catalogue of three dimensional or relief imagery, mentally overlaid or fitted into the stone until a match is achieved, a kind of psychic superimposition. So it's a two way street, a unique interaction between the stone and the sculptor. I especially enjoy the challenge of this process as it applies to antler, skull, horn or tusk.
Your work is so detailed and refined. It must be a very long and painstaking process. Were you always a patient person? Do you think your art taught you to be patient?
When working there is no sense of time, hence no need of patience. Right brain territory. Patience, however, is a gift I strongly encourage in collectors and commissioners of my work.
What inspires you?
Excellence and originality in all its manifestations. I am particularly inspired by great music played live. When the music flows over me, I see a cascading multiplicity of form. Sculptural problems resolve before my 'eyes'.
What are you working on now?
I am currently in the process of creating a large commissioned sculpture featuring the Short Eared Owl, entitled: "Short Eared Parliament." I'm about six months along, with another year to go. While this work progresses (I post photos and comments on my site as I go along) I'll be thinking about my next sculpture, entitled "Integration", which will mark a return to the completely abstract theme of 'Duality', weaving the angles and curves of earlier carvings into a single, unified design. The medium for this work will be a massive moose rack (152 cm wide), discovered atop a rocky Yukon mountainside.
Give us a quote by Delacroix.
In addition to posting work related updates on Twitter, I enjoy sharing pertinent quotes about life and art from artists I have been reading. Delacroix is pure gold:
"The mature artist despises everything that does not lead to a more vital expression of his thought."
A Gillian Sze poem, based on Self Portrait (2009) by Shane Wilson
There are memories we keep in bones:
porous, of wilderness,
fused long since.
What begins as nightmare,
we wake into, learn to weather,
weld deeper into us
so we die with fewer bones
than we’re born with.
Some of us turn into birds
take wing with the benevolence
of a Chinook,
speak with the roundness of grapes.
Others fly out like a flock of gods,
discover genealogies more lupine, more bovine,
become grand blueprints replete with stars.
Black-tipped, cold curvatures,
raw bone, vestigial horns.
An inarticulate clash of anatomies:
part curse, part calamity,
the ferocity of incisors,
and always a soft ache
lodged in old bones.
(Gillian Sze has written this poem in the ekphrastic tradition, where one artistic creation takes as its inspiration an art work in another art form. Gillian has also composed a marvellous book of poetry, entitled, Fish Bones, written in this same ekphrasitc tradition and based on her engagement with artworks housed in a variety of museums. It is available from DC Press. Her latest book, The Anatomy of Clay, will be released in April 2011 by ECW Press.)
(Catherine Kidd has been a formative and respected figure in Montreal’s vibrant cultural scene since the early 90s and has forged a reputation as one of the nation’s most surprising and inspiring voices for page and stage. Kidd’s multimedia collaborations and solo works have toured extensively to poetry, music, and theatre festivals throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, UK, US and Canada. Catherine currently lives in Montreal where she is hard at work on her next solo show: Hyena Subpoena. Her published writing includes two critically-acclaimed collections of poetry Sea Peach (book/cd) and Bipolar Bear (book/dvd), and a novel Missing the Ark.)
Red Deer College - Series Summer School of the Arts Course Catalogue (Detail of 'Male Seahorse' used on the cover and header graphics), Red Deer, Alberta, 2011
Red Deer - Series Summer School of the Arts Course Catalogue - Cover
I was absolutely delighted to receive the 2011 Series Summer School of the Arts Course Catalogue from Red Deer College today. Unbeknownst to me, the designer of this year's catalogue decided to use a slice detail from 'Male Seahorse' on the large cover graphic, which is repeated throughout the catalogue as an attractive header. What an honour!
Red Deer's Series program is truly amazing. Students take from Series real skills which will enable them to make art. A rare thing to be said of any art school these days!
Dennis Walrod's comprehensive book on antlers, appropriately titled Antlers: A Guide to Collecting, Scoring, Mounting, and Carving is now in its Second Edition, published by Stackpole Books in 2010.
Antlers, p. 158 'Antler Art: From Cave Walls to the Internet'
SHANE WILSON (www.shanewilson.com)
Moose antler sculpture
Shane Wilson is a sculptor who [has lived] and worked in the remote central region of Canada's Yukon Territory. He specializes in the carving of antler, tusk, and ancient ivory. He also teaches a summer course in antler carving with rotary tools at Red Deer [College] and other venues. His website includes several step-by-step photographs of the process of sculpting Celtic Confusion, which would be very helpful to beginning carvers.
Wildfowl Art is a semi-annual publication of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. Jim Clark writes of his experience studying with master sculptors Floyd Scholz and Shane Wilson prior to his submission of a carved antler sculpture for the 2010 Ward World Champion Wildfowl Carving Competition.
Wildfowl Art of a Different Nature
by Jim Clark, Sculptor
I have been transforming moose antler into birds since about 1995, but I had not competed in bird carving competitions until recently because of their exclusivity to wood. So during the summer 2009, with guidance from the inimitable Floyd Scholz, I tried my hand at carving a bird from wood. Read More...
Branch Magazine is a national quarterly online magazine devoted to exploring the rifts and overlaps of visual and literary arts while showcasing emerging and professional Canadian artists and creators. Branch features contemporary literature, art and design and aims to produce a compelling panoply of art in different media. Kudos to founders Gillian Sze and Rob Huynh (Roberutsu). Shane's work 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew' is featured in the Collaboration section.
HOME - Part 2
by Rob Huynh (Roberutsu), Arts Editor and Gillian Sze, Literary Editor
We don't usually have multiple parts to an issue but because this one was whoppin' huge, we figure it's either "go big or go home." (Oh wait, we did both, didn't we?)
As you probably already noticed, our cover for 2.2 is a tad different. We got our feature artist, cartoonist and Doug Wright Award winner Joe Ollmann, to illustrate something special for us...
You'll also notice a new section in this issue: Collaboration, which should be fairly self-explanatory. This section features sculptors Shane Wilson and Dwayne Cull whose art piece is inspired by a poem by Canadian poet, Robert Service. Read More...
Shane Wilson: Honouring The Power of Wild Life
Canadian Artist Makes A Contemporary Statement With 'Skullpture' Written By Todd Wilkinson
Shane Wilson’s art does not conform to a known vernacular, neither within sculpture, nor carving, nor the contemporary language of found objects and mixed materials.
However he is classified, Wilson’s creations stir up something deep within us—a mystery that cannot be explained easily in words. It could be the palmate shape of a moose antler that fans the inner flame of an archetypal memory, or the tusk of an Ice Age woolly mammoth, or the ivory gleam of a near-mythological narwhal inscribed with symbolism that reads like an ancient petroglyph.
Seeing them on the wall or under protective case, it is our sublime delight—and the artist’s challenge issued to us—to try and decode the hidden messages.
Art and nature form a breathtaking confluence in an extraordinary, evocative portfolio “For me, the message is all about who we are as people today,” Wilson says. “We live in a world of intriguing duality.”
Whether we dwell in a city or remote bush community; whether commuting to work in a skyscraper or making our living off the land; whether sojourning for subsistence in the wilderness or escaping into backyard woodlots, there is something ineffable about the headgear of animals that he reinterprets.
"This art of Neolithic and contemporary tribal peoples, to me, ranks with any art of world history. Its inventiveness, rhythm and abstract design is as high in quality as early 20th century modernist art."
Under Wilson’s command, antler and ivory not only fill a room with ambiance and character; they flood an even larger space—the 21st century imagination—with a sense of adventure, compelling us to ponder our primitive connections to a distant past and our contemporary world.
Celtic Confusion, 1998 (carved moose antler)
Like a large landscape painting on the wall of a museum or the substantive heft exuding from a mass of bronze sculpture, Wilson’s work has a magnetic effect. Regardless of its size, it can bestow even a great hall with a feeling of majesty.
For years, before making his home near the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island, he remained largely off the radar screen of collectors because the solace-loving artist resided in the isolated interior of the Yukon.
Wilson is making a name for himself and it is well worth our time to take notice. His transcendent blending of classical taxidermy with the fine art traditions of carving and foundry work are attracting attention from collectors and museums across the continent. “When I think of carving, I think of the great European traditions of stone carving, and the Celtic tradition of carving in antler, wood and stone,” he says.
The eminent Canadian nature artist Robert Bateman, who dwells on Salt Spring Island, near Vancouver, observes, “Wilson's work is a powerful evocation of this heritage but he goes much further in innovation and creativity. Rather than decorating a utilitarian object he produces stand alone objects of art that always seem fresh and surprising. Fresh and surprising are words that seldom apply to the vast majority of art turned out these days."
'Shane Wilson: Honouring the Power of Wildlife', Editorial by Todd Wilkinson - Trophy Rooms Around the World, Vol. 15, 2010
Todd Wilkinson has written the following editorial on Shane Wilson and his art for Trophy Rooms Around the World, Vol. 15, an annual book published by and available from Pro Guide Publishing.
Todd is an award-winning professional journalist who has covered stories from around the world for the last quarter century. In 2009 he co-founded the online art magazine, Wildlife Art Journal. He is also the author of several books, including the authorized biographies of sculptor Kent Ulberg and U.S. media mogul Ted Turner.
Trophy Rooms Around the World, Vol. 15, 2010 (pages 156, 157)
They stir up something deep within us—a mystery that cannot be explained in words. It could be the palmate shape of a moose antler that fans the flames, or the tusk of an Ice Age woolly mammoth, or the ivory gleam of a near-mythological narwhal inscribed with symbolism that reads like an ancient petroglyph.
Seeing them on the wall or under protective case, it is our sublime delight—and the artist’s challenge issued to us—to try and decode the hidden messages.
Art and nature form a breathtaking confluence in the extraordinary, evocative portfolio of Canadian carver-sculptor Shane Wilson. “For me, the message is all about who we are as people today,” Wilson says. “We live in a world of intriguing duality.”