Earth Magic

When Canada was settled by Europeans, this continent’s aboriginal cultures were pre-bronze age; risen from the Earth, living on and as part of the Earth, and returning dutifully to the Earth. As part of the circle of nature, they loved and respected the planet and their own place upon it, and did not attempt to leave any kind of mark on it.

Fast-forward a few centuries.

Culture has been thrown into a huge blender.

Monstrous scars of asphalt and concrete notwithstanding, the only things on our planet that are truly permanent are, ultimately, things that are dead. And they too will turn to dust eventually – to dust and then to stone – swirling strata of iron, carbon, limestone (from cement) and uranium marking the turbulent Era of Humankind.

The only place on earth where true history exists is in the stone.

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The act of carving the stone reveals its stories, its ancient mythologies and its archetypal resonance.

The act of shaping the stone is an evocation, calling upon the old gods to reveal themselves.

The act of polishing the stone is an invitation that gives people cathartic glimpses into history.

When I exhibited my sculptures at the 2012 World Fantasy Convention, even those not engaged by the shapes or the iconography were seduced by the stone itself. I saw people who were uninterested, or unimpressed, by the “artistic aspect” of my work, running their fingers over the gleaming surfaces and absorbing the primordial frisson.  I have a theory that creators and lovers of fantasy are intrinsically attracted by the very magic that is trapped in the stone.

Some people who attended the art show compared my pieces to Inuit sculpture. And they were right. As someone who has lived my entire life in Canada, I have been – unsurprisingly – inspired and influenced by Inuit sculpture. Like them, I make small, representational carvings that attempt to tap into the archetype. But I learned most of my technique from the Shona sculptors of Zimbabwe, having attended 4 of the annual Zimart workshops at the Rice Lake Gallery.

While both the Inuit and Shona perspectives reflect profound relationships with nature, the vein my work attempts to tap is the one that leads down into the mythic heart of the Earth, that I might mine the stories of magic depicted in traditional fantasy literature – reconnecting the fantasy tropes with their mythopoeic foundations.

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Thanks to the World Fantasy Convention Art Show 2012 for awarding the Chair’s Choice award to “Coming Out of My Shell” (centre above). And thanks to Kat Angeli giving “The Sorcerer” (directly above) a new home alongside work by many of my favourite contemporary artists of the fantastic.

(Reprinted from my DLSproule Tumblr Blog)

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