Branch Magazine: Wild

Branch Magazine: Wild (cover featuring Yukon Seasons)

Branch Magazine: Wild (cover featuring Yukon Seasons)

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).

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…


Feature Artist – 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.

Humpback Breaching - moose antler - 12x18x3in - 2005 - Shane Wilson

Humpback Breaching – moose antler – 12x18x3in – 2005

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.

Seahorses - moose antlers - 15x15in - 2007 - Shane Wilson

Seahorses – moose antlers – 15x15in – 2007

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’.

“I realized that it was possible to combine my interest in sculptural creation with these living sculptures.” – Shane Wilson

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.” 

Sculptures featured: Yukon Seasons, European Robin, Humpback Breaching, Seahorses, Dall on the Rocks, Duality, Candle Ice, Celtic Confusion, Faro Fannin

Comments are closed.