I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario. For as long as I can remember, I have made sculpture. My sculpture process has developed over my whole life and has been devoted to stone sculpture for the last thirty plus years. Originally, I made things from various clays that I convinced my mother to make or buy and I learned the fundamentals of stone sculpture from my brother Sandy Cline, a renowned soapstone sculptor. As a young kid, I sanded his sculptures and made a few small stone pieces. My interest in sculpture led to making stop-motion animation films with hand-sculpted figures moving about the scene. This in turn led to film school; unfortunately, my graduation coincided with the recession of the 80s, so I returned home to figure out my next move.
At the same time, my brother and his wife were living at my parents’ home before moving to a place up north. During this time, I started to sit out in the garage and carve soapstone with Sandy. We would just talk about everything and sculptures would be carved. After I had made about twelve sculptures, he asked if I wanted to go to the Ottawa Christmas show with him; that was 1985. At the show, I sold six and made about $1,000. Good for an unemployed film graduate in the 1980s.
Next, he was planning a three-week trip to Florida to do art shows. Let’s see: Niagara Falls in the winter with no money or warm in Florida and selling art! Each weekend we did an art show and spent money on new tools and stone at Montoya’s sculpture supply store in West Palm Beach.
During this time, my style and technique developed in the shadow of my brother’s work. At that time, I learned his techniques and processes and as time went on, I developed techniques and ideas that led me to other ways to carve stone. His work is primarily soapstone, quarried in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I carved hundreds of sculptures from this stone but I was always attracted to various other kinds of stone for their unique qualities: the translucency of alabaster, the opaqueness of limestone, the inner depth and luminosity of marble and so on. Additionally, I began to explore power tools, air chisels and grinders to work faster and on harder and bigger pieces. As time went on, I started to do my own shows and started to show in galleries. In 1990, we moved to BC.
In the early 90’s I attended the symposium at Camp Brotherhood and learned about more techniques and more stone and continued to develop my art practice. As I wondered why we did not have a symposium in BC, I guess I talked myself into starting one with the assistance of NWSSA. The Vancouver Island symposium started in 1996 and lasted for twenty years with the dedicated efforts of many of the sculptor luminaries of NWSSA. As I have always felt it is important to give back, I have taught carving stone from Kindergarten to adults.
In 1999, I completed my first public sculpture, an 11-foot tall marble sculpture “Spirit of the Earth” of a native maiden with a killer whale, bald eagle and salmon carved in relief on her robe. This year marks twenty years since its creation!
Since that time, I have completed five more public sculptures.
A Salmon fountain in Qualicum Beach was next in 2004, a column of marble carved with leaping salmon with water flowing over it - creating the illusion of action. It is located in the courtyard of the municipal offices.
In 2006, it was a 6-foot marble I called “Generations.” It honors women’s contributions to society and features a young women, a mother and an old woman with a baby on the reverse and a women’s cameo carved through. “Generations” graces a park in Nanaimo, BC.
In 2010, I applied for a community public art project in North Vancouver and I got the commission. The Compassionate Friends, a support group for people who have lost a loved one, was a heart-warming and tearful process but showed the power of art to heal.
Next, my sculpture “Eternal Ribbon” was selected People’s Choice winner at the inaugural "Sculpture Splash" sculpture show in Macaulay Point Park, Esquimalt, BC in 2014. Purchased and currently displayed at the Office of the Municipality of Esquimalt, BC.
My wildlife sculptures are an expression of a profound love and respect for the diverse creatures of the natural world. Whether they be humpback whales or giant pacific octopuses, bears or birds, orcas or otters, I hope to express in my work some part of their unique reality and spirit. All creatures have a unique beauty like we do.
My abstract sculptures are an exploration of ideas not represented by things. Usually the inspiration for my abstract works comes from the sacred writings and scientific discoveries. Forms in space. Key concepts of my abstract work are:
The Primal Point is a single point in time and space. Energy emanates from this Point. A beginning. The space in its center unknowable, a black hole, a birthing star, the big bang, the creation of all things, a prophet of God.
The “Eternal Ribbon” is an expression of the term “form of immortality,” from the quote that “when we die we take on the form of immortality.” As a sculptor, the idea of flowing forms forever is delightful.
My figurative sculptures reflect the diversity of expressions and forms of the human experience. From babies in the womb to humanity’s struggle with its relationship to life and the spirit.
Stone sculpture is about discovering the unseen and bringing it into the world of the visible. My sculptures reflect my observations of the nature of reality using metaphor and symbol to explore the universal, mysterious, the challenging and then sharing the discovery. I feel a deep affinity to stone and its connection to the earth and time. I respect its enduring qualities, its varied textures, rough carved or polished smooth, from abstract form to a point of detail. I love discovering the inherent beauty of the stone, working within its limitations and strengths, exposing its inner core, exploring its ability to be shaped into endless forms of expression.
My sculptures in stone are the process of direct carving, where the sculptor begins without a specific model. A general concept or idea will do at this point. I draw right on the stone, refining the profile, moving from one profile to the next, refining, checking that all the parts work in relation to each other or I move the profile to make it work. You must always be sure in your decisions of what stone you want to remove - then remove it.
My sculptures usually begin as an idea, a concept, an inspiration, a piece of stone that has something in it, only partly understood and only by carving the piece can you know what is inside. I may see a ridge of a back, or a tentacle and for me this is enough to go on. A million tiny calculations as to whether there is enough material to make the idea work and a long list of what-ifs. If it is to be a particular thing like an animal, I gather reference material as the form takes shape. Every sculpture begins quite abstract, nebulous and unknown. Slowly it takes shape, becoming something other than a stone. At some moment, the stone disappears and something new has taken its place.
Currently, I work mainly in local marbles discovered from around the Gulf Islands. I enjoy the process of hunting for stone in its natural environment. With my crane truck capable of lifting up to 3 tons, I can return with any stone I want. My home studio features 12 foot ceilings and all the tools and stone required. Additionally, in 2017, I was invited to be Artist in Residence at BC Marble Products, a new marble company in Chemainus, a community on the eastern coast of southern Vancouver Island. I have a makeshift pallet shed on site I built for outdoor carving with air and electricity. I also have access to a large wire saw and an unlimited supply of ever changing stone.
In the future, I look forward to creating more public sculpture; organizing an international sculpture symposium using local marble and sandstone; further developing my skills and understanding of stone sculpture; take my long desired pilgrimage to Italy and finally figure out how to make a good living through my art.
Make dust, my friends.