Island Artist Makes the Most of a Difficult Situation

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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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CBC Sounds Like Canada - David Gutnick interviews Shane Wilson about the CWG Torches, Mar 13, 2007



Bill Richardson: Hello and good morning and welcome to Sounds Like Canada. Here for Sheila Rogers, I’m Bill Richardson. It’s to the North we’ll go to begin, where sporty things are being done neath the midnight sun by athletes who moil for gold.

(sounds from the Games, comments from athletes)

It’s so great when Sounds Like Canada starts with the sounds of Canada!

David Gutnick, from Montreal, did you go to Whitehorse to cover the Games themselves, to hang out with the nimble athletes?

David Gutnick: [Yes, but I also wanted to meet …] an artist who was connected to the Games. There is a fellow, Shane Wilson, who is an artist just out of town here and he sculpted the three Canada Games Torches that were carried through Nunavut, NWT and Yukon through 10 months leading up to the Opening Ceremonies, last Friday. I wanted to see the fellow, see the hands that had carved the Torches. And so I visited Shane in his studio, where he works, on the second floor of this building about 12 kms out of town, where he sits at his carving desk, surrounded by shelves of caribou and moose and elk antlers antlers and he even has, believe it or not, mammoth tusks!

Bill Richardson: Shane Wilson:

Shane Wilson: I have this marvellous carving table. It is magnificent the way it allows you to manipulate your carving and clamp down so that it doesn’t move. With moose antler you need power tools, mostly, like dental tools and grinders. I’ll start with one of the smaller ones. (noise of NSK Emax turning on)

David Gutnick: It looks like a dental drill.

Shane Wilson: In fact it is a dental drill. The same company that makes dental drills makes these for artists, for carvers, mostly for wood carvers. So then I follow the pattern I’ve drawn in to the antler (sound of carving). It is the same kind of material in antler as you have in your teeth (dentin). It isn’t ivory, per se, but it is a similar substance. Different antlers have different twists and turns and consistencies and you see how the final object will come out. If you look at the tail here and see how it curves around and comes out from the body a bit, the antler had a bit of a twist that way that I could use to make it look like this is alive and not just a flat object.

David Gutnick: It’s like stepping into another universe, I look around and you’ve got this wall of grinders, you’ve got your bird cage over there, with your African Grey, whose name is…

Shane Wilson: Jerry is his name…

David Gutnick: Jerry the Parrot. And then you’ve got a wall of antlers and horns and tusks and skulls…

Shane Wilson: It’s my universe, I guess. I’ve got enough material here to last me a lifetime.

(insert clip of Pam Boyde introducing the inaugural Torch Relay in Alert Bay, Nunavut)

David Gutnick: When you got the commission to do the Torches for the Canada Games, you did what? You come over here, you grab your …

Shane Wilson: I’ll show you. I have a rack that just has a selection of caribou antler, accumulated over the years from various finds. People find them because the caribou shed them every year. They just drop on the ground, whether in the tundra or the forest. So I went through the inventory here and found just the right handles for the torches, ones with a nice long, narrow shaft, so that you can hold on, plus a nice broomed end just right for carving. And I found three of them; I only had three that actually worked, one for each Territory, which also worked perfectly for the designs that I was looking at.

This is a mammoth tusk, from a Wooly Mammoth, which was dug up in Dawson a couple of years ago.

David Gutnick: It’s about two and a half feet long and weighs about 15 pounds.

Shane Wilson: It’s actually just part of this larger tusk you can see up here. It’s like a huge snake, with the end broken off.

David Gutnick: And how old is that?

Shane Wilson: Oh, it’s between 15 and 40,000 years old. It looks like an old rotten tree trunk, but when you carve it, it’s nice and white under the surface.

David Gutnick: You were an Anglican Priest?

Shane Wilson: I was yes. But I retired.

David Gutnick: But you’re a young guy!

Shane Wilson: I retired young. (laugh)

David Gutnick:
Bones were calling to you, they were talking to you?

Shane Wilson: Well, art was calling to me. I was happy being a priest in the smaller communities here in the Yukon, Faro and Ross River. But I feel more fulfilled, more satisfied working at art, and particularly, carving, for some reason. It’s a living material, bone and ivory, it’s got an energy all its own.

David Gutnick: It’s spooky in here though, isn’t it?

Shane Wilson: (laughing) It could be considered a little macabre, with all these bones, but I see such beautiful pattern in the bones, patterns in the skulls and antlers. People think of antler carving and think of eagle heads and stuff that you see in the tourist stores, but I like to think this is different. This is taking it a bit further, if you know what I mean.

(clip of Piers MacDonald declaring open the 2007 Canada Winter Games over sound of Shane carving)

******

David Gutnick:
Really beautiful things that he does, Bill!

Bill Richardson: You did very well for yourself up there, David Gutnick, or rather you are doing very well…

David Gutnick: Just wandering around, you tap someone on the shoulder and say “Hey, you’ve got a story you want to tell me?”

Bill Richardson: Well, I love the sound of Shane Wilson there in his workshop, surrounded by all that stuff, and when he said, its the same kind of stuff you have in antler as you have in your teeth, then there was that kind of dental sound in the background … well, I’ll never look at an antler quite the same way again, you can count on it!

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CBC News - New Sport Hall of Fame to Honour N.W.T. Athletes

New Sport Hall of Fame to Honour N.W.T. Athletes - Image of Atheletes with CWG Torches
Olympic cross-country skier Sharon Firth, right, is one of 13 people being inducted into the N.W.T. Sport Hall of Fame on Friday. She was one of the torch bearers for the 2007 Canada Winter Games along with Olympian Lucy Steele-Mason of the Yukon, left, and John Taipana of Nunavut, centre. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

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CBC TV Lang & O'Leary Exchange - Interview with Isadore Sharp, Four Seasons Hotel - Built to Last

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Isadore Sharp is interviewed by CBC's Amanda Lang on The Lang & O'Leary Exchange, on the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
Isadore Sharp is interviewed by CBC's Amanda Lang on The Lang & O'Leary Exchange, on the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

During the Sharp interview on CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange, the camera panned up to 'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson twice.
During the Sharp interview on CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange, the camera panned up to 'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson twice.

A close up of  'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson on CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange coverage of the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
A close up of 'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson on CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange coverage of the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

Amanda Lang: "What about the timing of the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel during this uncertain economy?"

Isadore Sharp: "You can't stop what you're doing because of the economic cycle that you might be in. The Four Seasons Hotel is going to be operating in this city for the next 100 years and every seven to ten years you are going to have this issue of, "what's wrong with the economy?" So you have to move forward - whatever the situation is, you address it."

Amanda Lang: "It must feel amazing to build something that will stand here for 100 years?"

Isadore Sharp: "You don't think of it that way, but that's what building is, especially buildings like this. This is built to last. The quality of this, the structure, everything about it - it's going to be part of Toronto history for at least 100 years."


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CBC Radio One Whitehorse: Al Foster interiews Shane Wilson on Yukon Seasons Unveiling




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Al Foster, CBC Reporter
There was a special unveiling last evening at the Canada Games Centre. The Yukon's Tourism Minister, Elaine Taylor, was on hand for the event.

Yukoners were celebrating the return of "Yukon Seasons".
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CBC Whitehorse, Noon Show: Artist Reunited and Skullpture Donation




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Cheryl Kawaja, Host, CBC Whitehorse Noon Show
Well Shane Wilson is unveiling a new work of art and hoping to put an old one back together.

The former Yukoner is now based in British Columbia. He's back in the Territory to unveil a series of sculptures in Haines Junction.

He's also hoping to take a look at a carving that was damaged in a recent theft. "Yukon Seasons" is an elaborately carved moose head, lifted from the Canada Games Centre last year. After being on the wanted list for several months it was finally returned but the thieves had damaged the piece.

Shane Wilson obviously has a lot on his plate but he's taken some time out to chat with me here this afternoon.
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CBC Radio News: Sculptor Reunited With Stolen Sculpture




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Sandy Coleman, Host, CBC Whitehorse Morning Show
A Yukon sculptor got a first-hand look yesterday at the damage done to his artwork. The moose antler carving was stolen last fall from the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. It resurfaced a few months ago in less than pristine condition. As Susan Stanley reports, it will take time to repair the piece, but the damage could have been much worse. Read More...

'Moose Antler Sculpture Returned Anonymously' - CBC's Russ Knutson Interviews Sculptor Shane Wilson




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Russ Knutsen, Host, Afternoon Show, CBC Whitehorse
What may have been the biggest art theft in the history of the Yukon isn't completely solved yet, but there's certainly some good news today for sculptor Shane Wilson and for the Territory as a whole. This week the sculpture, an entire moose skull and antlers carved into northern imagery, was recovered by RCMP after they received a tip.

We've reached Shane in Nanaimo ...
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'Stolen Carving Recovered by the Police' - CBC Radio News, by Dave Croft




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC Announcer
Sculptor Shane Wilson is relieved and happy, that a work of his that had been stolen has been recovered by the police.

The piece was stolen last September from the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. But now it's back in the hands of the Yukon Government's Arts Branch.

Dave Croft reports ...
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CBC Radio One Whitehorse: Al Foster interiews Valery Monahan on Yukon Seasons Restoration




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Al Foster, CBC Reporter
Dirty, moldy and yellow.

Yukon Conservator, Valery Monahan is restoring a large antler sculpture. It was stolen from the Canada Games Centre more than a year ago. Last April it was anonymously returned to the RCMP.

No for the last four months it has undergone a bit of a facelift.

Here to give us an update is Valery Monahan. How's our sculpture looking now?
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CBC-TV Northbeat: 'Yukon Seasons' Artist Reunited with Sculpture




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC Northbeat Announcer
It's one of the most talked about pieces of Yukon Art, at least in terms of what's happened to it in its short history. Now, in the latest chapter, the unique piece of art has been reunited with its creator after being stolen and damaged.

Read More...

CBC Radio One Whitehorse: Morning Show with Tara McCarthy Interview with Valery Monahan on the restoration of Yukon Seasons




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Tara McCarthy, Host, Morning Show, CBC Radio Whitehorse
The damage to a sculpture crafted from moose skull and antler could have been far worse. Artist, Shane Wilson, donated the piece, valued at $50,000, to the Canada Games Centre. Thieves lifted it from the Centre last September.

In April of this year, though, it was recovered although no charges have been laid.

Yesterday Wilson saw it for the first time and the damage done to his sculpture. He was relieved to learn his creation is repairable.

The person doing the delicate restoration is Valery Monahan. She's a conservator with the Yukon Government and she's with us in the studio this morning.


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"Yukon Seasons" Returned - CBC As It Happens - Carol Off Interviews Shane Wilson




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text
Barbara Budd - Host CBC As It Happens
Shane Wilson spent years carving the elaborately detailed sculpture of a moose skull and antlers that he called, 'Yukon Seasons.' He then presented the artwork as a gift to the City of Whitehorse, the community that had nurtured him as an artist.

But apparently, someone wanted to nurture the sculpture itself, in private! Because last September it was stolen, in the dead of night from its home in the Canada Games Centre.

Shane Wilson thought he'd never see 'Yukon Seasons' again. But today, the stolen antlers are back where they belong!

We reached Mr. Wilson at his home in Nanaimo, B.C.
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'Yukon Seasons' Registered with the Art Loss Register - CBC Feature Interview with Christopher A. Marinello Executive Director & General Counsel of The Art Loss Register, New York, USA




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Sandy Coleman - CBC Whitehorse Morning Show Host
The Art Loss Register recovers lost and stolen art, antiques and collectibles from around the world. In the past it has helped recover multi-million dollar paintings by the likes of Picasso. Now it's going to be used in the search for the Shane Wilson carved moose antler sculpture that was heisted from the Canada Games complex last fall.

Chris Marinello is the organization's Director and General Counsel and he joins us this morning from New York.



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'Yukon Seasons' Registered with Art Loss Register'- CBC Radio Whitehorse - by Susan Stanley




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC Newsreader
The search for a stolen Yukon sculpture has not resulted in any leads so far, but the piece is now registered with the world's largest database for lost and stolen art. As Susan Stanley reports, the Art Loss Register has a proven track record of recovering multi-million dollar pieces:

Susan Stanley, CBC Reporter
Works by Pablo Picasso, Edouard Manet and Paul Cezanne have all been stolen and later recovered by the Art Loss Register. The work of a former Yukon artist was stolen too, but so far, not been found. Read More...

'Yukon Seasons' Not Insured'- CBC Radio Whitehorse - Laurel Parry and Shane Wilson Interviews




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Sandy Coleman - CBC Whitehorse Morning Show Host
Well, you may remember last September a massive moose antler sculpture was stolen from the Canada Games Centre, called one of the largest art heists in the Territory's history. It went missing during a power outage. So far Whitehorse RCMP have not located the sculpture.

In just a few minutes we'll speak to Shane Wilson, the former Yukon artist who created it, but first Laurel Parry is here. She's the Manager of the Yukon Arts Branch.

How does the government insure, or does it insure its art in the permanent collection?
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'Whitehorse Art Stolen During Power Outage' - CBCnews.ca - Arts and Entertainment


(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
A power outage across the southern Yukon over the weekend may have helped a thief nab an artwork from Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre.

According to staff at the centre, a moose antler carving valued at about $50,000 went missing sometime between midnight and 6 a.m CT. Around 3:40 a.m., the city had a blackout that lasted over an hour. Read More...

'Power Outage Provides Opportunity for a Thief' - CBC-TV Northbeat




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC Northbeat Announcer
A late night power outage over the weekend in Whitehorse may have provided the perfect opportunity for a thief. A unique and valuable carving was stolen from the Canada Games Centre early Saturday morning. Al Foster has details of the daring robbery,

Al Foster, CBC Reporter
This was the place where a piece by carver Shane Wilson had been displayed. The work features a moose skull with elaborately carved antlers. It's valued at $50,000 and took over three years to create.
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'Moose Antler Carving Valued at $50000 Missing' - CBC National Radio One and Two - Top News Story by Cheryl Kawaja




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC National Newsreader
A power outage across the southern Yukon over the weekend may have helped a thief nab some art work at Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre.

When the lights came back on a moose antler carving, valued at about $50,000 was missing. Cheryl Kawaja reports.
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'Yukon's Own Thomas Crowne Affair' - CBC Radio One - Q Featurette




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Sandy Coleman, CBC Announcer - Introduction
Well, a massive power outage, that plunges much of the Yukon into darkness, security cameras rendered useless. While staff are resetting alarms at the Canada Games Centre, a $50,000 piece of art mysteriously goes missing. Coincidence, or a version of the Yukon's very own 'Thomas Crowne Affair'? Here's some reaction from the artist, Shane Wilson:
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'Thief Gets Away With Valuable Art' - CBC Radio News Whitehorse




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
CBC Northbeat Announcer
Good morning, I'm Ellen Jones with the CBC News.

A power outage may have helped a thief get away with some public art. When the lights came back on Saturday morning a valuable carving was missing from the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. Vic Eschenko reports:
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'Yukon Seasons' Not Insured'- CBC Radio Whitehorse - by Susan Stanley




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Ellen Jones CBC Newsreader
A former Yukon Artist is not optimistic his stolen sculpture will be found.

Shane Wilson donated the work to the Territory's Permanent Collection. It was on display at the Canada Games Centre before it was stolen last September.

As Susan Stanley reports, Wilson would like to see the Yukon Government insure its Permanent Collection.
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'Valuable Art Missing' - Nancy Thompson interviews Shane Wilson - CBC Radio Whitehorse, Noon Show




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Nancy Thompson, Host, CBC Radio Whitehorse Noon Show
A valuable piece of art went missing from the Canada Games Centre, this weekend at some point early Saturday morning. A thief or thieves made off with an intricate antler carving. There was also a power outage around the same time. Police are reviewing security cameras, but the person most surprised might be the artist who crafted the work. Shane Wilson spent three years carving the piece he calls 'Yukon Seasons'. We've reached him on the line from BC. Hello there. Read More...