AGE IS BEAUTY – I found this rather weathered piece of driftwood at my favourite beach on Georgian Bay, during one of my frequent walks looking for neat stuff on beaches. It reminded me of a really old persons weathered forearm, and it reminds me of the aging of a stately lady whose youthful beauty has been replaced by no less interesting beauty brought about by graceful aging. The coloured glass representing the lessening of the importance of material wealth as we age, and the pink pendant representing the mystery of what awaits us in the next existence, if there is one.
ATHEISTS AND BELIEVERS SURPRISE ENTRANCE INTO THE WORLD – Afterworld represented by the large beige portion. The Atheist is the wood part with the coloured glass representing all the nice material possessions accumulated during a lifetime. The white sack represents all the financial wealth. The Believer is the green stone shape. The religious text is the white book attached to the believer and the lines on top represent the many religions in the world.
As they near the gate to the Afterworld, they are confronted by an inner black gate representing all the indigenous populations that have been devastated by “civilizations” .The entrance is smaller than the size of the Atheist and the Believer, making the entrance to the Afterworld that much more challenging, and usually means having to discard and slim down the ideologies and materialism of this world. The big surprise comes when they finally manage to squeeze through to the Afterworld, the only thing they encounter is a really big fantasy world, as represented by the Mickey Mouse ears, because we really don’t know what is after this life is over, as I don’t think CNN had any luck interviewing any dead people to let us know what is in the next existence, and any speculation to an Afterworld is really just that, a speculation.
VENUS OF WAHNEKEWANING – Another neat piece of driftwood I found partially buried in the sand at my favourite beach on Georgian Bay. I had it mounted to the base for a few months and just couldn’t figure out what to do with it, because like a lot of other objects I find, I like to keep the piece as original and unaltered as I can. I was very tempted to radically change it with a bunch of other sculptural elements added to it but luckily, one day I saw that it vaguely reminded me of the ancient Venus of Willendorf sculpture unearthed in Europe and estimated to be many thousands of years old.
At first I thought the thing looked a bit like an old weathered post from a dock where the rope was tied around the narrow part, but looking at it more carefully I think it’s part of a small tree that was many years ago chewed up by a beaver, and came to rest on the beach for me to find it.
So because I found it near Wahnekewaning beach that’s what I named it after decorating it a little. This area of Georgian Bay also has a long history of Canadian Indigenous people populating what once were rich fishing and hunting grounds before the Europeans came and decimated the populations, and ruined the pristine beauty and bounty of this area. The sculpture also represents a woman of power from the indigenous cultures, before the Europeans came and ruined everything.
WAR IS HELL – This stone was given to me by a friend who had it and another one like it in his garage for many years, and he was told it was soapstone, but it turns out to be some form of slate. For years it just laid there and as he did not know what to do with it, or how to start to change it, he gave them to me.
Then I had it laying around for a while not really seeing any shape emerging from it. At this time I was also reading a rather depressing, but very important book called Human Smoke, all about man’s inhumanity to man during the modern day wars, its effect on me helped me to see a shape emerging from the stone.
It has a screaming mouth in pain and horror, and its eye has a large tear representing all the “collateral damage”, the double wooden base represents how the military industrial corporations elevate, through their spin doctors, the necessity of continuing the supply of death machines as part of keeping a healthy economy, in the “industrialized nations”.
PEACE TREATY AND FOREIGN AID – The Peace Treaty title came to me after I added the small silver metal piece to the top and it reminded me of the dove of peace. Then I came to see that the curved part with the nails represent the complexity of any peace treaty, the bone representing all the dead people that were sacrificed to get to the peace treaty and the glass ball wrapped in wire the possible beauty in finally reaching peace, however, the wire around the glass represents the constraints that accompany any treaty, and the black, red, and yellow parts represent the future dangers in being too oppressive in enforcing any hardships on societies that had to sign the peace treaties.
Foreign Aid. This is usually is doled out to less fortunate third world countries, and is represented by the small black piece in the middle. This is supported by wires representing all the strings attached to any and all foreign aid. The small black part at the top represents a country that was finally able to break free from the constraints of some of the conditional foreign aid.
POLITICIANS QUANDARY – My rather cynical view of most politicians. The soapstone figure in the middle has two faces and represents the politician. All the chairs are facing away from the politician and are painted in several colours representing the many personalities of the population, most of who are not really interested in politspeak……
HUMANKIND – The poignant lyrics in John Lennon’s song “ Imagine “ seem to point to a new world order of peace, harmony and preservation of our precious environment.
It appears that they were merely the musings of a “dreamer” (me included) because since his passing, evil, greed, carnage, and environmental degradation have increased.
As I see it, after the catastrophic event of the next big comet impacting our planet, if any humans survive, they may want to consider using the lyrics to “ Imagine “ as a starting point in setting up a new world order in an effort to rebuild more caring and environmentally responsible civilizations.
A LONG WAY TO GO YET – This assemblage is a visual representation of my take on current and contemporary historical events, and drawing similarities to those of the colonial and imperial times, and coming to the conclusion that not much has changed in hundreds of years of so called “evolution of civilizations”.
The pink stone represents a stylized country being devastated by modern day colonialism, the gun and rocket are the means of delivery of death and destruction and the small bone with the male symbol representing the male centered decision makers responsible for carnage. The branches with the scorched seed pods and the broken shell pieces represent the environmental destruction during conflict times.
BARK – Sometimes it’s nice to be not so serious, or contemplative about creativity, which is why I put together this piece just to state the obvious in hoping to get a smile from the viewer. I used bits of bark I found on the shores of Georgian Bay, and just mounted it to painted ply.
THE MONUMENT – The wood portion of this rescue comes from the burn pile at a construction site. As with a lot of my assemblages and sculptures I collect discards when I see the possible future use in my work. The wood for part of a notch system in an old barn beam and I thought it was an appropriate way to display two of The Monument my left-over green stone cut-outs from a larger piece. I turned the 2 cut-outs into related shapes, as well as adding the bone and part of a Florida palm for the top.
After completion, the piece reminded me of a maquette for a large monument.
HAVE A SEAT…The title of this piece is actually — “Have a seat, Adolf, Benito, Idi, Mao, Kim, Robert, Pol, Bashar, Josef, — et al. Please take your turn and let’s talk about why you slaughtered the children.”
The title is actually self-explanatory, and it belongs to the group I call “Never Forget – Never Forgive”
BEAUTY IS WITHIN YOUR ABILITY – I saw this large piece of birch bark still attached to a dead birch tree stump, as I was heading down to the beach, wheeled the car around and carefully peeled it off the stump and just managed to fit it into my car.
So now I had a really big and nice piece of birch bark but no ideas as yet, so I just hung it up in the garage, then took it into the house for the winter… Every time I passed by it I tried to come up with an idea, the main stumbling block being that I did not want to alter it in any way. Then I re- hung it in the garage, and once it flattened out some, I decided to just hang it on a big stick and hang something else off the stick part.
Then it finally came to me. Write something about the feeling I had when I first found it and also hint at the lack of interest in it by the hundreds if not thousands that passed right by it. So that’s when I came up with the idea of the 2 copper plates with the writing that I punched into the plates.
Even today, I still am amazed by the rough textured beauty and the size of the birch bark and how lucky some of us are in noticing some of the beauty in nature right in front of our noses and all around us, we just have to take time from our routines to really notice what is readily available, free, and all encompassing.
OOPS! WRONG PLANET – The blue part represents the spaceship from another planet, which landed on Earth, and as the complex Alien emerged and began to experience the state of affairs on this planet, the Alien very soon realized that the civilizations here are all at a very early stage of evolution.
Wars, pursuit of materialism, killing each other, destroying the ecology, really stupid beliefs like religions, atheism, racism, political ideologies, nationalism, and on and on, persuaded the Alien to not even try to communicate with the Earthlings, lest they would capture him and put him on display at Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
The Alien did however, take a few souvenirs with him to show the people back home that there was some hope for the planet as it was evolving rather slowly. The main one being the recording and lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and some lesser works by Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Bertrand Russell, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and a new kid on the block called Obama.
So off he went back to his far more evolved planet but not before leaving several drones, not visible to the Humans, and transmitting information on the state of the Earth back to his planet, so if ever in the future Human beings finally evolve into truly intelligent and peaceful beings, the Aliens may decide to come and visit to share in the beauty of the Earth and the cosmos.
MY GAME – YOUR RULES I made up a game comprising of 4 colours of 6 pegs each and 6 dice to be played on a discarded plug cutting board I salvaged from a construction site.
It’s up to you to make up the rules because I just don’t want to…
HIS INNER VOICE WAS DIFFERENT – This smaller sculpture is made up of cut-offs and cut-outs from larger pieces. The idea started off as purely abstract but after completion, I remembered a conversation I had with my neighbour while on holidays. We only share a few things in common, coming from different backgrounds and social experiences, but we do discuss many topics. I, being a bit more liberal and wider scope in experiences, quite often the discussion would lead to the neighbour commenting that I listen to a different “Inner Voice” and that I, unlike him, express my inner voice, whereas his social constraints prevent him from doing so.
So with this in mind, I decided that this would be an appropriate title for the piece. The different colour of stones representing different ideologies, and the person with the circular hole is the one with the different inner voice, but still accepted by the other folks and thought about a lot after passing into the next reality of existence.
THE WHITE HOUSE IN 2014 – The most common observation of this piece is that it looks like the Manger. So if you like, that’s what it can be for you.
However, as the White House in 2014, I represented President Obama by the small but very angular black stone standing for his inner strength and convictions, but always being manipulated and controlled by the established white power elite in the White House, as represented by the pink shapes crowding Obama. And the large windows on the sides of the building represent the elusive transparency of the US and all political systems.
RAIN ETCHED TORSO – I forgot to bring this piece in from my back deck, and after a few days out in the rain, I saw that the dripping from the eaves trough had actually etched into the Alabaster. At first I thought about re finishing it, but I like the new textures that the rain left on the surface.
RE-CONFIGURED AND SAVED – The nature of stone is to have fault lines and cracks in the stone, usually not visible till they show up rather dramatically while I am carving, chiseling or drilling the stone. At times this can end up changing the idea I had for the stone rather drastically. “The Broken Canoe” and ” Across From the Fault Line” are two that I decided to leave as they broke, whereas “From the Ruins I Return”, ” Lucky Eight Minus One” and “Untitled – 53 ” I changed completely from the original idea I had for the piece after a short period of cursing, and disappointment, but seeing a new possibility in re-configuring the piece.
As even the smallest pieces of stone, be they broken off or cut from larger work, all have a certain amount of inert shape and sculptural elements so I hardly ever discard these, some of which I have in the past, turned into wearable tiny sculptures.
THE HYPOCRITE – The blue tongue and the red brain represent the opposing thoughts to actions and the hinged neck is because hypocrites tend also to be “yes men” so a hinged neck means they can be toadies to the true establishment.
This would be more relevant to countries like Canada, where red usually is the colour of the Liberals and blue that of the Conservatives, and where there are probably many politicians who would love to be Liberal in their thinking, but are willing to toe the line to conservative ideologies, and vice versa .
THE SHAMAN – A fellow artist once commented that this looked very religious, like representing Christ on the cross, totally not my intention for the piece.
As my approach to some of my work, I tend to use up most of the cut-offs and broken pieces from my larger sculptures and often make smaller sculptures and assemblages from these.
I first started with the curved white piece, a cut-out from another sculpture, then the green shaman part is actually the bottom cut off from a larger green piece so it would have a flat base to stand on. It looked like part of a torso, so I put a stylized head on it. Then the idea of putting the green and white parts together on a piece of beach driftwood, giving the sculpture an air of power and mystery, mostly because of the curvature of the white piece.
It was after I completed it that it looked rather like a religious piece, but it also looked like something that indigenous tribes would hold during ceremonies.
MORPHING INTO LIFE – As with many of my sculptures, they go through more than one transformation before I am satisfied with the results.
This started off as a purely abstract, Untitled piece, and had it on display as such. One day I noticed that another shape began to emerge, either because of the light hitting it a certain way or just my state of mind on a particular day. I went through several variables of changing the piece but decided that a suggestion of the human form morphing out of the abstract shape would be the most appropriate for this piece, as it sort of reminded me of a torso, even in its abstract form.
MY IMPOSSIBLE PUZZLE – The wood portion is a piece of driftwood I found on the beach on Georgian Bay, that looks like it used to be a cedar step at someone’s cottage, and the wire portion was a construction site discard.
The stone chips and pieces are the leftovers from my stone sculptures, that I have been saving for many years, knowing all along that someday I would get ideas to use them in various assemblages or as tiny little sculptures as in some of my other works.
The idea of the impossible puzzle is that there is no way I can remember which sculptures most of those stone fragments came from, but each one of them has some sculptural quality about it. And one interesting outcome of this piece, is that every time I look at it I feel like starting another stone carving, or it begins a process of creating some other 3 dimensional work.
PLANK TRANSFORMED – I found this plank submerged in lake Rosseau in Muskoka when I was working on one of those huge summer residences. It was in the water by the island that over 100 years ago, people used to come to by steamship to spend time at several of the cottages there. A few of the original cottages were retained by the current owner, as well as building several newer ones and a really large main residence.
Over the years there were many renovations and as was the custom at the time, a lot of the building material that was torn down and discarded, was either burnt or thrown in the lake.
This particular bay had a lot of deadwood that had sunk to the bottom after being waterlogged for many years, and I spent a lot of time walking in the shallows salvaging really neat deadwood, bits of metal, glass, and other interesting objects. One day I saw a small corner of this plank and after getting a shovel, managed to dig the whole thing out, so now I had a real treasure, and judging by how much it had weathered and how deep it was submerged in the sand, I am guessing that it must have come from one of the original structures on the island, possibly 100 or more years ago.
I had it sitting around for a number of years, not getting any ideas as to how to display it especially because I did not want to alter it in any way. Finally I came up with the idea of hanging the copper sign off it, and just saying what I felt at the time I found it.
BLUE EYED BIG NOSED JAKE – This dude has become my holy Savior, who watches over me, to make sure I go the paths that my inner self chooses….. Sure is nice to have a spirit being who truly understands me and would never lead me astray…..
Jake is gods brother as I present him in Assemblage # 171