PHYSICAL to DIGITAL (02) – My first amendment!

28 July 2017

A couple of days after having posted “Physical to Digital” (part 01) I realized that I had forgotten to include several fragments of my life. One large time gap concerns a series of sculptures made between late 1985 and early 1987.

In September of 1985 “Open Sea” had been installed and my life on several levels was changing. In February we celebrated the birth of our first daughter, Beatrice, and now after the sculpture installation  in September I had the luxury of time.

Pietrasanta was still basically a sculptor’s town and a wonderful place to work and to live. There was a strong component of skilled artisans covering any aspect of the art, from marble carving, casting bronze, creating Venetian mosaics, making enlargements of models, moulds of these models, the crates to ship them. Then added to the mix was a great band of artists from different countries and various ages.  Strong friendships were created between the artisans and the artists.  Though an outsider you felt to be a part of the town.

Then as a bonus the world’s two best producers of sculpting tools at that time were to be found less than two hours from town. One was in a beautiful mountain setting where to reach the factory you walked through this ancient town and then on a narrow path through woods.  As you drew near ones ears heard the sound of many hammers at work.  They built some very useful tools that i designed for myself.

The next 14 months were dedicated to the creation of a new series of sculptures. The sculptures I wanted to create were too big for my studio in town. Claudio Mariani, the foundries owner, kindly let me develop my ideas in the same foundry studio I had used to create the head and tail of  “Open Sea”. The springing point for the sculptures was to be the figurative part of the “Files” sculpture, shown below, that I had created for my solo 1983 exhibition at the Canadian Cultural Center in Rome.

  1. Files-Roma-I
  2. CACI-Invite

Before “Files” was presented to Pietrasanta’s Plaster Museum I created a plaster piece mould of the figurative part of the sculpture. With this plaster piece mould I began to create a series of works, which I nicked named, for obvious reasons “Buttons”. For me the belly-button/navel is a perfect human symbol. We all have one, it’s our “roots” and by itself is gender neutral. So I created this series of sculptures around the navel, at times mixing the body form with image content.

After having developed these original ideas in plaster we than moved to Toronto for approximately eight months as I went searching for someone to help produce them. Unfortunately this search was of no avail. However I received an offer to create a life-size sculpture, with his owner as rider, of a World Champion cutting horse in action. I accepted this challenge to create my first horse (this story in a subsequent blogs). Hence, the “Buttons” were put on hold and an almost three year journey of work began.

Below, in chronological order of development, are the major sculptures created during this period.  Looking at these images thirty plus years late I  find it true that good art tis timeless.  These are  valid sculptural ideas that need to be transformed into their intended materials of cast bronze or carved marbles.  They could act as maquettes for really monumental sculptures or be produced in their current size.  All interested producers are most welcome!



Pietrasanta, July 28, 2017

  1. mother-button
  2. mother-button-blue

This is the original “Files”.  I used it to design the shapes I was going to create.  The whole series is on view.  The image underneath shows you the outline for “Untitled Egyptian”.  Below in chronological order are  the sculptures.

  1. Shelding-Sepia
  2. Shelding-Sepia-A

“Shielding Sepia” (W,D,H) 60cmx10cmx165cm   was included in the exhibition “9 Sculpteurs Canadiens en Toscane” at the Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris 1987.  The front image was taken by Stefano Sabella (the local “go to photographer of sculpture”) while the second by myself.  The seaside is a few kilometers from Pietrasanta.  The idea of the shape came from that of a sepia bone, which were found readily on the beach, with that of a shield.  On a very windy, dramatic day, I went to Stefano’s store in Tofano (a part of Marina di Pietrasanta), found him and then we walked to the beach to take the shot.  Striking difference between our photographs.

  1. Pancia-Front
  2. Pancia-Side

“Pancia” (W,D,H) 111cmx43cmx174cm  There was to be a relief on the inside.  I left the mould lines visible.  Sculptors often part of the technique to become part of the form.  Auguste Rodin was a master at this.

  1. Untitled-Sun
  2. Untitled-Sun-Under

“Untitled Sun”  (W,D,H)

  1. Untitled-Mirror
  2. Searching

“Untitled Mirror” (W,D,H) 48cmx10x83cm  I was planning to have a mirror or highly polished material on the other side.

  1. Untitled-Egyptain-BW
  2. Untitled-Egyptain-colour

“Untitled Egyptian”  (W,D,H) 118cmx60cmx145cm  These photographs do not really “explain” the depth of the sculpture.  The one underneath does give a feeling for what the sculpture would be like on a monumental size.

  1. Cloud-Colour
  2. Cloud-BW

“Untitled Cloud” (W,D,H) 133cmx68cmx118cm  In 1987 it was rare that one owned a camera, let alone a cell phone with a camera & cloud. Special effects were pretty well limited to backgrounds and lighting.  This image has me trying a live special effect with a bit of shredded wood packing material being light up behind the sculpture.  The underneath image you can see part of a bench that Mike Davis, a Canadian sculptor from Toronto taking some sabbatical time off,  is standing on to helping me holding up the red curtain. On the right one can see some of the wood material we were burning.  We certainly smoke the studio out and the big doors had to be opened.  More found images of the event .

  1. Totem
  2. Totem-Head-1

“Totem” (W,D,H) 114cmx25cmx195cm  There were to be landscapes as reliefs on the other side.  I was working off my experience of building most of the inside of the whales mouth in wood and wax.    Love how this sculpture, using the tensile characteristics of bronze, stretches it’s self .  It has less physical material with a greater volume.

  1. Group-shot-Front
  2. Group-Yellow

Here is a bit of a group shot which helps give one a better idea of perspective and size.  The one with the yellow outline was abandoned and destroyed.  The flow was not right.