Artist of the Week – Kim Warne

April 26, 2012 § 5 Comments

Artist of the Week – Sculptor Kim Warne of Soundings Studio

A deep and gentle voice recounts to me this incredible story. Its soothing rhythm and pitch have no doubt stood this inspiring man in good stead as he helped people through various periods in their lives, good and bad, performing his ministerial duties.

It is not his unfailing lifelong dedication to helping others, though, that will be the subject of this article. Instead, this article will touch upon the incredibly lucky turn of events that united this outstanding sculptor with his passion for soapstone carving, and helped to shape one of the most down-to-earth artists I’ve ever met…

Born and raised in London, England, it was no secret that Kim Warne would never grow up to be an artist. His art teachers never ceased to tell him that he lacked ability. Warne recalls one assignment in particular that he was required to paint: “Nelson’s Fleet”, showing the great tall-masted ships of Nelson himself. Perhaps he was ahead of his time, perhaps he was simply unappreciated for his ability to think outside-the-box, but needless to say, Kim’s rendition was not well received. He’d painted a grey smudgy background with a few vertical sticks poking through it with the familiar red, white, and blue of the British Ensign proudly snapping in the wind. The piece was titled “Nelson’s Fleet in a Fog”. Anyone who’s ever been to London on a foggy day would likely understand the accuracy of Warne’s depiction. Sadly, it did not win him any favours with his instructor.

As a young adolescent, he and his family braved the war years in London.  Even today, he is still able to recall the horrors of the bombings that rocked his city to its foundations. At age fourteen, shortly after the war, he and his family moved away from London, across the ocean to a country kept safe only by its inaccessibility: Canada.

Due to his sporadic education during the war, Kim had a nearly insurmountable challenge before him: catch up to his peers in school. While he excelled in English and the Humanities, his poor showing in mathematics and science were a chore to get through. Most notably, though, was perhaps his art education: after only a mere three weeks of classes, Warne’s father received a call from the art teacher – a call that would not only change the course of Kim’s life, but also destroyed any chance of the budding artist inside reaching its potential.

In short, the art teacher explained that Kim had no skill in drawing. Unless he dropped the course, the young Warne would stand no shot of gaining entrance to university down the road. The course was dropped, another Humanities was picked up, and Kim’s skill in art was all but forgotten.

The next fifty years consisted only of art appreciation. Not even his children’s school projects could coax the crushed artistic spirit of Kim Warne from the deep, dark, place of rejection from his high school days.

It wasn’t until, approaching retirement, his artistic wife Wilma forced him to find a hobby that he began searching for his niche.

He already knew that drawing and painting were not for him. A lackluster experience in stained glass convinced him that melted sand and hot lead were also not in his future. By pure happy coincidence, a friend of his invited Kim over to try his hand at stone carving. Armed with some spare tools and a piece of stone, Warne set-to with a will…

… And discovered in himself an innate and untapped ability for laying bare the stone’s soul.

“There’s excitement that comes of creating something out of a boulder – the boulder looks ugly – but there’s something beautiful inside it,” he explains.

One of his mentors, a renown Inuit sculptor, would encourage him and urge him to perfect his technique and figures. Looking at Warne’s pieces, he would turn them over in his hand and would make suggestions, inspiring Kim to seek out areas for improvement. At one point, his mentor was looking at a piece, turning it about. Warne was sure he was going to spot some flaw that he’d overlooked. Instead, his mentor spoke the five greatest words for any artist to hear, “That is a piece of art.”

His initial subjects were the loons and bears of the Canadian Wilderness. His style is recognizable as minimalist, but by no means lifeless; in his eyes, the animals should appear as if they could just get up and walk away at any moment, despite their sleek finish . Warne has since branched out into inuksuit, whales and dolphins, and even frogs. The penguins happened along after an inspirational visit to the Falklands Kim and wife, Wilma, took a few years ago; they waddled into his collection this past winter. He has also begun creating a unique line of “Comfort” statues: a mother cradling a child, but with the child offering comfort to the mother as well.

In 2004, Warne’s work was selected to be given to 26 delegates of a week-long international NATO conference. Close upon the heels of this incredible honour, Kim was nominated to the International Guild of Master Craftsmen in 2006. It was a juried selection that took place in London, England, and was hosted by a customer already possessing eight or nine of Warne’s pieces. More recently, Canadian soldiers who travelled to Holland to celebrate the liberation of the Dutch nation after the Second World War took various pieces as thank you gifts for their host families.

Over the course of the last decade and a half, Warne’s work has been shown across the country and has been displayed in various galleries. His award-winning sculptures are spread out across the globe in Germany, Australia, Holland, Norway, England… Every year, they travel slightly farther afield and find some new remote corner of the globe to reside in.

There is no denying how humble he is about his work either. “It’s a real pleasure to have people want to have your work in their home,” he confides. No customer is taken for granted.

While he may have slowed down slightly in the last couple of years, he is still very much enjoying every moment of carving. The idyllic setting of his studio, overlooking Minnicock Lake, certainly inspires.

And his story, we hope, inspires as well.

For more information about Kim Warne’s work and his studio Soundings: Discoveries in Stone & Fabric (in partnership with Wilma), please go to www.soapstonecarvings.com

Art & Spirituality – Guest Lecture

April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Abbess Khenmo Nyima Drolma will be offering an insightful slide lecture on the healing and dying rituals of diverse cultures, through their art.

The lecture will be held, Thurs May 17th, from 7pm – 9pm at Fleming College and is open to anyone free of charge.

For more information, please see the attached PDF file. Presentation – Artistic Doorways FINAL II

Artist of the Week – Alec Morrison

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Alec Morrison

How do you define achievement?

Is it by grabbing the nearest yardstick? Collecting the most “Likes” on facebook? Perhaps graduating Magna cum laude from Harvard?

How about the moment when you actually hear someone else call you an artist? That is what it took for this week’s artist, Alec Morrison, to finally title himself “artist”.

Raised in the bilingual – English & French – and multi-cultural town of Haileybury, Morrison was introduced to both French-Canadian and Native American influences at a very young age. Born and raised in this picturesque area just north of the Temagami, he grew up with a profound appreciation for hand-made and hand-crafted goods.

His colourful musical career began early as well. From the tender age of seven he has played piano; a few years later, at age thirteen, he picked up his first guitar. His upbringing consisted primarily of Blues music, but with the advent of his budding guitar talents, his tastes shifted to punk bands like the Sex Pistols, NoFX, and Operation Ivy.

“Nowadays,” he admits, “I’ve moved into an extremely eclectic mix of stuff, and also Celtic rhythms.” As an afterthought he adds, “And also old country music.” He smiles at his own taste. (For a taste of his music, head here => http://itunes.apple.com/au/album/already-been-where-i-was-goin…/id442130024 )

The ushering-in of the new millenium not only marked an important calendar-change, but also a turning point for Morrison’s own path: he left high school to play in the punk band Bayl out of London, Ontario. When the band broke up, his itchy feet took him to the western reaches of the country where he spent nearly four years off and on, moving between Port Alberni, B.C. and Canmore, Banff, and Calgary, Alberta. “The mountains are beautiful,” recalls Morrison, “and the river water is a crazy hue of blue. [My] first time there, I kept looking over my shoulder to look at the view of the mountains. It was a great vibe.”

Unfortunately, during his adventures out West, Alec’s mental health broke down and he was diagnosed as bi-polar. Unstable for a long period of time, paranoid and delusional, it was some time before he got help. Admitted to the psychiatric ward, Morrison came to terms with his illness and was released, only to be institutionalized again several months later. He spent close to four years in and out of mental health care facilities as he grappled with his own demons.

“Manias are incredibly dangerous – if severe enough – it’s an incredibly complicated, and underrated, sometimes ignored, illness… I’ve gotten to a point where I can manage it, thankfully… and I can reflect on the experience, and create with that energy. But it’s a forever kind of thing, I have lots of people helping me.”

Morrison proudly shares that he’s been both healthy and stable now for seven years; a milestone for anyone who spent more than half that time in and out of hospitals.

But it wasn’t until after this point in Alec’s life that he developed an interest in visual art. During a search for an artist capable of drawing a loon for a tattoo, he came across renown Native Artist Hugh Mackenzie of Bear Island. During the five months of lessons, he learned a great variety of techniques from stencil to sponge, but most importantly he learned a great deal about life.

With a renewed passion in music and art, he started the band Crank Radio in 2005, which lasted up until 2009. His interest in blacksmithing grew out of his drive for self-sufficiency. Intent on pursuing a craft that he could work on during the day when not making music, Morrison was first intrigued by the concept that he could create his own tools with nothing but a hammer, tongs, anvil and forge fire. That Christmas, he asked for a couple of books on blacksmithing. The pages of these books did nothing but whet his whistle, and, rather than sating his curiosity, served only to pique it. “I got into the subject really deep. I found the science behind metallurgy fascinating and the method too…” he tells us. “A couple years after that, my dad told me that a course was being offered at Fleming, so I enrolled.”  Nearly through the course, he was forced to withdraw due to a health scare. “Unfortunately, my health wasn’t great, and I missed a lot of school; I might try it a second time in the future.” Lucky for us, he stayed in the program long enough to create some beautiful works of art.

This year, he has returned to the Haliburton School of The Arts and is hacking, pouring, carving, sanding, and molding his way through the Sculpture course. And enjoying every minute of it.

“It was only a couple of months ago that I realized I was an artist. I asked my girlfriend what she told people I did for a living, and she said “that you’re an artist”.” Calling himself an artist offers him the freedom to be his own boss and to constantly create whether writing poetry, sculpting in plaster, or shaping hot metal with a hammer…

His parting random fact was admitting that he wears kilts. “It’s a Scottish heritage thing, and if Ashley MacIsaac can get away with it, so can I. The way I see it is: if you can’t wear a kilt at a punk show in Canada, then the terrorists have already won.” He offers up a brief chuckle. But the kilt stays on…

Make sure you come to HSTA’s I Made It! Spring Show ‘n Sale. Alec has graciously offered to provide musical entertainment: Saturday, April 21st, 10am – 2pm at the Haliburton Campus.

To visit Alec Morrison’s own blog, go to www.morrisonalec.wordpress.com or to get in touch with him (he’s not without a sense of humour), send him an email at buymystuff@morrisonalec.ca

To view his mini-documentary titled “Already Been Where I Was Going”, filmed at the old North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vNRluaMOv0&feature=related

For more information on mental health, visit http://www.cmha.ca/bins/index.asp

If you liked Alec’s wonderful pieces, check out some of these other amazing sculptural artists: Brittney Howe, Sandra Dunn, Susan Watson Ellis

To learn more about any of the programs at the Haliburton School of The Arts, please go to www.hsta.ca

Book sculptor reaches new heights

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Book sculptor reaches new heights

Alicia Martin creates 3D book art engaging even non-readers with the printed word…

Get the “full story” here…

http://flavorwire.com/270701/enormous-sculptures-of-books-exploding-out-of-buildings

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