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I was fortunate while exploring Canada coast to coast in my early twenties to have been introduced to the works of British sculptor, Barbara Hepworth. Her elegant use of wood, stone, and metal to convey a reverence for contemplation inspired me to embrace the mysterious beauty of wild places as recurring themes in my own work. Similarly, Theodor Schwenck’s book, Sensitive Chaos, deepened my appreciation of how flowing water and streaming wind give rise to familiar elemental forms – not only as impressed on sand and stone and snow but also as expressed formatively in the biological growth of organs which allow life to flourish.
There’s a welcome sense of partnership in working with wood. The figured grain, itself a record of flowing life forces, is both a source of inspiration and a constraint in visualizing the evolving form. The work is intuitive yet often formidable as chips fall irreversibly off the original block. The majority of the labour involved is devoted to refining curves and concavities in a lengthy process that ends with my taped fingers utilizing ever finer grades of sandpaper. Multiple thin coats of tung oil complete the finishing. I encourage viewers to reach out to touch and caress in order to share the feeling of the experience that produced these forms.
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and raised in the United States where I graduated from Dartmouth College, Class of 1967. Self- taught as an artist after immigration to Canada, I began carving wood in earnest in 1976 in the Cape Mabou Highlands of Cape Breton Island. Over the years, my sculptures have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in both public and private galleries throughout Nova Scotia and Vermont and in Toronto and Montreal as well, winning several best in show awards and finding homes in public and private collections along the way.
My love affair with wood, black walnut and cherry in particular, dates back to my youth. Yellow birch, elm, beech and are native to forest that surrounds our homestead. Old gnarly apple trees abound. Cape Breton and Vermont quarries have provided beautiful marble and dolomite. The work is all by hand, the primary tools a wide range of gouges, chisels, files and rifflers. All of my sculptures are created “in the round”, carved from singular blocks of wood and marble from which the final form gradually evolves.
Full Portfolio www.ianshermansculpture.ca