adventure into art began during the late 1950's, while I was
working in Ottawa as a draughtsman for the Department of National
Defense. During my lunch hour, I became a frequent visitor at
the Lorne Building that then housed the National Gallery of Canada.
This is where I first saw the paintings of Lawren Harris.
When I first viewed his
Arctic paintings I could feel a chill in the room, I decided
then and there that there was much more to painting than just
creating pretty pictures.
During this period, I often
frequented several coffeehouses in Ottawa, listening to the folk
singers and meeting other art conscious people, such as Barry
Lord whom I shared an apartment with. Our rooms seemed to have
a constant flow of artists and musicians.
I began oil painting.
I quit my job in Ottawa
and moved to what was soon to become the fashionable Yorkville
area in Toronto. For a short time I stayed with friends Don and
Sandra Arioli, going to plays, museums and painting.
Often I would hitchhike
around the country searching for a purpose. It was during this
period, I met my wife. I was picking fruit in Niagara to get
a little money before moving on and Rita was working in the adjoining
canning factory . She was curious about the nomadic lifestyle
I was living at the time and asked to travel with me for a while,
but she did not like my name and decided to call me Sandy. Forty
eight years later we are still traveling together.
Several artists sharing
an apartment seemed a good way to survive. So, Malcolm Batty,
Howie Fryer, Davia, Rita, Anne and I shared the lower half of
a house on Lowther Street in the annex near the Yorkville scene.
My success in painting was
slight. To earn enough money to live and keep on painting, I
began carving objects out of wood, and selling them to the tourists
that frequented the coffeehouses.
Malcolm convinced me that
I was a better carver then a painter and encouraged me to carve
larger pieces, so I turned back to carving.
I do not think
of us in this period as being "starving artists", I
remember times when if one of our circle of artists sold a piece,
it meant we all ate.
We were having too much
fun, enjoying life, to think about starving, there was always
a job somewhere and one could always make a bit of money somehow.
Even today those jobs are still around, but they don't pay as
much as people would like.
Because of my previous experiences
and knowledge of geology, I feel there was a natural progression
My discovery of the books
and sculpture of Malvina Hoffman
completely changed my vision of carving. " She taught me
to see the life force in the stone that determines the direction
that the stone allows itself to be formed. I must respect and
admire the stone, working with it to develop its inner beauty.
I try to bring out the feeling and motion of the sculpture within
the stone. In my mind I see stone eagles suspended in air despite
the laws of physics."
Hard work and long hours
are what kept my sculpture alive. A usual day was divided into
eight hours sleeping, eight working and eight carving. There
were several times I was tempted to quit, but friends and other
artists like Joan Howatson inspired me to continue, until sculpture
became my full-time profession.
There is a point where everything
comes together in your head and with your hands. There is no
way of telling when you get to that point - it just clicks. Yesterday
no one liked what you were doing, and today it is highly valued
I am very critical of my
own work, even after thirty five years as a professional sculptor.
My wife, Rita told me that I am an excellent sculptor, but I
have no taste.
my studio is in the wilds of Burleigh, Ontario, Canada, I feel
that the world is at my fingertips. Over the past thirty six
years, my work has traveled to almost every country in the world.
I taught sculpture at the
Haliburton School of Fine Arts for nineteen years. Many of the
techniques I have acquired by trial and error and I feel I should
pass the knowledge along.
Seven years ago I begin giving
five day workshops at the William Holland School of Lapidary
in Young Harris, Georgia. Elsewhere on this site you can see
the work my students have finished during these courses.
"Each piece I make
is a statement. I feel I am leaving behind little pieces of myself
and how I look at life, embedded in the sculpture." he says,
his animated voice suddenly becoming serious. "You have
to learn to work with the stone, if you try to force it into
something it doesn't want to be, it will break. You become one
with the sculpture, and you can feel that it is right."
"Knowing there is an living
aspect to every piece of art,
the artist has a special relationship with the objects he creates."