Borealis And Oreithyia   

Moose Antlers, 52x30x18in, 2015

Collection of the Artist

The carved curves and swirls which flow between these mated antlers represent the phenomenal Yukon skies filled with the Aurora Borealis. I have many fond memories of laying on the ground gazing up as the multicoloured vortexes swirl, wrap, curl and whip across the night sky, periodically extending fingers of light straight down towards me, so close I imagined that by reaching up I could touch them with my own. The angled elements speak of powerful wind and mountainous height, while a smaller angled arrow on the left burr could be an abstract compass needle, pointing north.

Looking to name this dual sculpture and intrigued by the word borealis, I looked it up. Borealis (or Boreas) is the ‘purple winged god of the north wind’ who took for his bride Oreithyia (pron. O-ree-thee-ah), whose name means ‘mountain gale’. Perfect!

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose

This sculpture is for sale, please visit AVAILABLE FOR SALE section.

Gaia

Moose Antlers and Bronze Moose Skull, 43x48x24in, 2009

Part of ‘Skullpture Series’ (comprising 15 bronze originals); acquired by Haines Junction Permanent Art Collection; permanently installed in the St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada, 2009

This moose antler carving and bronze is inspired by the Gaia theory that the earth is alive, propounded by James Lovelock. A positive future is envisaged in the symbolism of this sculpture, one in which human beings survive global climate change through our combined efforts as we become symbiotic with the earth and bringing consciousness to Gaia.

The bronze skull represents the planet, land and ocean, from which all else springs. The two antlers represent nature (left – curved elements), and human technology, culture and accomplishment (right – angled elements). I have included elements from nature on the human side (of course) and also elements of human structure on the nature side. I believe that our intelligent input into the world’s natural systems is the way forward.

Collaborations:  Current (an ekphrastic poem based on Gaia) written by Gillian Sze, PhD

Publications: Arabella; Hi Fructose; Yukon Arts Centre Blog; Algonquin Art Centre News and Gallery Program, 2011; Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; From Portrait to Self Portrait: Vol 3

Candle Ice Two

Moose Antlers, 46x28x20in, 2012

Commissioned by James Robertson Art Consultants and Yabu Pushelberg for the Four Seasons Hotel Permanent Art Collection; permanently installed in the the west lobby of the newly built Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2012

These two moose antlers are patterned abstractly after the fragile fall and spring ice (candle ice) that forms, breaks apart and piles up along the banks and shores of rivers and lakes in the North.

The inspiration for this sculpture comes from an earlier, single antler sculpture entitled, Candle Ice, based on an intricately carved pattern of isosceles triangles. Candle Ice Two is based on the scalene triangle, intricately carved, fan-like, around two offset central hubs. Viewers often ask if the triangles were carved separately and then glued together. They were not.

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose; Yukon Arts Centre Blog; Air Canada En Route Magazine; Four Seasons Magazine; Condé Nast Traveller; Toronto Life Magazine; Toronto Star

Dall Sheep Duality

Dall sheep horns, skull, 23x16.5x9in, 2004

Commissioned for the collection of Wayne Towriss

The commissioner of this sculpture hunted this Dall sheep (Ovis dalli), some years ago and rejected the skull and horns as a possible mount due to the bullet damage on the right (viewer’s right) horn. I suggested that it might be possible to carve the skull and either include or work around the bullet damage on the horn. The embedded bullet is included in the final sculpture.

The approach to carving this duality themed sculpture was modified to allow for the possibility that the whole could be separated into three distinct, stand-alone, sculptures. Each of the horns and skull display carved curved and angled elements.

Publications:  Arabella; Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5

Big Horns Ram – Shatter And Melt

Big Horn sheep horns, 24x14x7in, 2010

Commissioned by Charlie Gauthier for the collections of Alain Gauthier and Stephane Gauthier

A gift from a proud father to his sons upon graduation and employment, each sculpture is an abstract representation of young man’s coming of age, when he strikes off boldly on his own, often challenging traditional ways or accepting new truths.

The two sculptures form a duality themed set, representing this coming of age from the perspective of two very different personalities, coolly logical (Shatter) and warmly emotional (Melt). A ‘path’ element, beginning at the tip of each horn, winds its way down the horn, growing as it nears the Big Horn ram which it ‘supports’ from beneath, making it possible for the ram to shatter or melt through part of that same path. The path represents tradition, the ram the young man.

Publications:  Arabella; Branch Magazine: Private Parts

Self Portrait

Musk oxen horns, bronze wolf skull, 14x23x11in, 2008-2009

Commissioned by Earl Bennett; donated to Yukon Arts Centre Gallery Permanent Collection, 2009

Cicero once said, “Life is short, but art lives forever.” This sculpture represents an artist’s life and legacy: in the end, they leave their bones (the bronze wolf skull) and their art (the carved musk oxen skull). Interesting note: wolves and musk oxen have co-existed in the arctic for thousands of years, symbiotic. (Perhaps similar to the relationship between artists and their art?)

Duality elements are formed into the sides of the bronze wolf skull to represent the source of the artist’s life and work, written in the bones. The musk oxen horns, which represent the artist’s artistic legacy in the larger sculpture, contain a sculptural narrative of their own – an abstractly rendered life: from birth (the left black tip) to middle age (the centre gap between the two horns), maturity and then death (represented by the right black tip). The curved elements (feelings, relationships) and angular elements (thoughts, learned concepts) on the left horn represent the formation of self and its tentative, creative efforts at identity, relationships and life-work. The gap between the two horns represents the mid-life crisis, a time to reassess life and make changes.The design on the right horn is more complicated and yet more unified than that on the left. It signals a consolidation of self-identity and the bringing to fruition ones life-work.

Collaborations:  Lineage (an ekphrastic poem based on Self Portrait) written by Gillian Sze PhD, spoken word rendition by Cat (Catherine) Kidd. http://soundcloud.com/

Publications:  Arabella; Ice Floe II: International Poetry of the Far North (cover); Algonquin Art Centre News; Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; From Portrait to Self Portrait: Vol 3

Tundra Swan

Moose antler, 10x9x4in, 2005

Commissioned by Yukon Hospital Foundation for poster campaign, ‘Under Our Wing’, 2005; permanently installed at entrance of the newly built MRI Unit, Whitehorse General Hospital, 2015

Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) migrate across the length and breadth of Yukon each summer and fall. Because of this territorial wide ‘reach’,  the tundra swan was chosen by the Yukon Hospital Foundation to be their symbol for a fundraising drive to enhance medical services across Yukon.

The curved element carved into the rear wing represents the caring labours of hospital staff; the angled element carved into the forward wing represents the medical infrastructure, equipment and building, required by the hospital to meet their service goal.

Publications:  Arabella; Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; Yukon Hospital Foundation: ‘Under Our Wingposter and publicity material

Duality

Moose Skull, 29x10x15in, 1997

Commissioned for the collection of Richard Olson

This is the first of my duality themed sculptures. The design elements have appeared separately in earlier pieces, but this combination of contrasting angular and curvilinear elements first occurred here. In addition to the meaning associated with this approach, the sculpture also provides for variety of display, if installed on a mantle or along a wall displaying the right or left profile.

This sculpture is about the idea that our brains have two sides, right and left, each hemisphere responsible for different ways of thinking, acting and being – but joined and working together in the whole person. The left brain, the seat of our rational self, is about language, concepts, time, and critical thinking, represented abstractly here (on viewers right) by discrete, angular, overlapping shapes. The right brain, the seat of our creative self, is about image, form, colour, intuition and emotion, represented abstractly here (on the viewers left) by a flowing, curvilinear  treatment. The two sides are connected  about a dome-like element high on the forehead – representing the corpus callosum, a reminder the brain’s hemispheres work together. In my work, this ‘working together’ means the created object contains both beauty and meaning. On a symbolic level, going forward, my work will also contain at least some of both the angular and curvilinear elements.

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose; Branch Magazine: Wild; Ice Floe: International Poetry of the Far North, Summer 2002 (front cover, back cover); Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; Up Here; From Portrait to Self Portrait: Vol 3

Celtic Confusion

Moose antler, 33x25x15in, 1998-1999

Collection of Lynne Whittaker

Carved in an abstract, curvilinear style, Celtic Confusion speaks of the experience of a second generation Celt born in the New World. While the formal culture of the grandparents’ homeland remains important, it changes, becomes less precise, finds new expression.

This carving consists of a series of “ribbons”, each one beginning at the tip of a different tine then following its own winding path, over and under the other ribbons, all ending in the base of the antler. The effect is reminiscent of the wonderful, traditionally designed Celtic knot work wrought so abundantly in stone, gold and ink.

Publications:  Art Takes Times Square; Antlers: A Guide to Collecting, Scoring, Mounting, and Carving; Branch Magazine: Wild; Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; Logo/Trademark for Shane Wilson Sculpture Ltd. (detail)

Candle Ice

Moose antler, 25x33x15, 1998

Acquired by Miranda Atwood in 2000; Westmark Whitehorse Hotel Dining Room, permanent display 2006-2008; donated to Yukon Arts Centre Gallery Permanent Collection, 2008

“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.” YAC

Publications:  Yukon Arts Centre Blog; Branch Magazine: Wild; Ice Floe: International Poetry of the Far North, Winter 2002 (front cover, back cover); Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; Up Here; From Portrait to Self Portrait: Vol 3; Guide to the Goldfields

Seahorses

Moose antlers, 15x15in, 2005-2007

Commissioned for the collection of Jason and Kerrin Wilson

This double-figured sculpture was commissioned by a seahorse aficionado, to be realized using abstract, duality themed elements (angles and curves). Barbour’s Seahorses (Hippocampus barbouri), have interesting protrusions or barbs (though their name comes from the fact that they are found in the Sea of Barbour) and very nice shapes, inspirational models for this sculpture. The Barbour’s Seahorse are under threat in the wild, from overfishing and habitat loss.

Since seahorses demonstrate gender role reversal: females compete for the attention of a male, who then carries the successful female’s babies to term in his pouch, I have chosen to feature curvaceous elements (with angular undertones) on this pregnant male seahorse and angular elements (with curved undertones) on his female partner.

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose; Branch Magazine: Wild; Red Deer College: Series Summer School of the Arts Course Catalogue (cover and header graphic – detail); Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5: From Portrait to Self Portrait: Vol 3

Short Eared Parliament

Moose antlers and skull, 49x58x30in, 2010-2013

Commissioned for the collection of Keith Levoir

This massive sculpture was commissioned by an owl aficionado, with a preference for realism. The Short Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) was chosen as subject because it is interesting sculpturally. Unlike most owls, and like us, it is diurnal, so relies on visual cues as part of its communication strategy. In other words, it exhibits a variety of expressions! Two of the owl’s prey animals will also be represented: the Wandering Garter snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) and the Townsend’s vole (Microtus townsendii). Background elements of oak, wetland, bush and grass are taken from their overwintering habitat on the Nanaimo River Estuary, Vancouver Island.

This is also a duality themed sculpture, though most traces of explicit, abstracted angles and curves have been eliminated from the final design as distracting. Note the nest (angles) and the grasses (curves) as the most obvious remaining elements.

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose; Outdoor Lifestyle; Arizona Gourds

Yukon Seasons

Moose antlers and skull, 44x47x24in, 2000-2003

Commissioned by Adriano Bigotta, 1999; Westmark Whitehorse Hotel lobby permanent display 2004-2006; Acquired by Yukon Permanent Art Collection and installed at the Canada Games Centre (CGC), Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, 2006; stolen Sept 2007, dubbed by media ‘The Great Antler Heistand ‘Yukon’s Own Thomas Crowne Affair’; recovered March 2008; restored, broken tine affixed by Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Yukon Government (YG); reinstalled in CGC by the Hon Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture (YG), the Hon Bev Buckway, Mayor of Whitehorse and the artist, Dec 2009; damaged by smoke from CGC fire June 2011; cleaned and tine fix improved by Valerie Monahan; reinstalled in CGC by the Hon Mike Nixon, Minister of Tourism and Culture, YG, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, Dec 2011

The theme of this completely carved moose antler and skull set is the four seasons of the Yukon, hence the name, ‘Yukon Seasons.’ Winter and Spring are represented by a variety of sharply angled patterns on the left antler – snowflakes, ice fog, stars and the break up of river ice and features an Alaska-Yukon moose (Alces alces gigas), Yukon wolf (Canis lupus pambasileus) and Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis). Summer and Fall are represented on the right antler by the swirling, curvaceous patterns of the sun, mountains, bushes and waterfalls and features three Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), one fishing for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The skull combines angled and curved patterns from all four seasons and features the Northern raven (Corvus corax), Yukon’s official bird for all seasons.

Publications:  Arabella; Hi Fructose; Branch Magazine: Wild (cover); Wildlife Art Journal; Trophy Rooms from Around the World: Vol 5; Yukon News; Whitehorse Daily Star; L’Aurore Boréale

Canada Winter Games Northern Torches

Caribou antler, each 20x32in, 2006

Commissioned by Touch The North Inc. for donation to the Canada Winter Games Host Society, 2006; donated by the Canada Winter Games Host Society to The Governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut for permanent display, 2007; Yukon Torch permanently displayed at Canada Games Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, 2007

Caribou antler, universally present in all three of Canada’s Territories, was chosen because of its unique handle-like shaft. The torch tops are fashioned from stainless steel and copper and hold a solid fuel source – a ‘cupcake’ of wax and woodchips that has a burn time of about 1/2 hour.

Each torch’s carving contains three elements: an animal significant to the respective Territory, the Canada Games Maple Leaf logo with an addition of three veins to represent the three territories who have joined together to host the Games, and an abstract angular or curved element containing 13 parts to signify the 13 Provinces and Territories that make up Canada:

•    Yukon Torch: Northern raven (Corvus corax), Yukon’s official bird, overlooking 13 mountain tops of the northern boreal forest

•    Northwest Territories Torch: Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Northwest Territory’s symbol, clambering onto secure footing from an ice pan breaking up into 13 pieces

•    Nunavut Torch: Narwhal (Monodon monoceros), from Nunavut’s coat of arms, with tusk passing through the Canada Games Maple Leaf logo, swimming amongst 13 ocean waves.

The amazing thing for me about this project was following the torches, my creations, as they travelled 100,000 miles across northern Canada, via every conceivable means of transport in all conditions, enduring hardship and calamity, sharing in celebration and triumph, and touched, held or carried by thousands of Northern Canadians. I first read the book, Paddle to the Sea, as a youngster. How wonderful, I thought, to be the maker of that little canoe and to know that my creation was out there in the world, making its way to the sea! The Canada Games Torch Relay was my ‘Paddle to the Seaexperience.

Publications:  Globe and Mail, Yukon Arts Centre Blog; Up Here Magazine; Airforce: The Magazine of Canada’s Air Force Heritage; The Maple Leaf; Nunavut News; Inuvik Drum; The Yellowknifer; The Deh Cho Drum; The Northwest Territories News; Canada Winter Games Newsletter; TSN – Canadian Press Release; Yukon News; Whitehorse Star; Visions North; Windspeaker