I studied Art History and art making at McGill and the University of Victoria. I’ve been fortunate to spend days in the great museums of Europe, Russia and North America. My favourite art is painting that is still wet and stone sculpture that is unfinished. In my grade three class, the teacher read from a book the meaning of all of our names. My arch rival for the affections of Daisy was Herbert “strong and brave.” My name Peter means “rock”. I was crushed and embarrassed. I grew up in Quebec on an island, the island of Montreal. The town was called Pierrefonds or 'rock-bottom' in English, go figure… although my good friend Mark has offered the translation, “Deep Stone”.
I remember the epiphany of my first few minutes an Art History class in the old arts building at McGill as Mark Chisholm lectured on Gauguin and synthesism. Ever since I’ve been encouraging any student with an elective to take an art history class “Imagine,” I say “sitting in a darkened room looking at two projection screens as images of human mark making over the ages are compared and contrasted by a brilliant mind…” I forsook political science and international relations from that moment on.
Direct carving soft stone with hand tools is like carving butter on a winter’s day. On Salt Spring Island where I live one can carve outside year round more or less. In winter the stone is colder than a tomb, in summer hot like a car hood. It seems elemental, timeless to chip away standing in the weather–I think of the legion of artists doing the same.
My muse, my wife Lynda works at her art of writing upstairs. As we playfully work we think of our two little boys who inspire us with the wonder of it all….
As Leonard Cohen sang “We live our lives as if it’s real a thousand kisses deep,” and our sons cover us with kisses.
The stone reveals of course, but it is not a given. I am flush with the excitement of thinking into rock but see in a dark crevice the fear of a time when nothing comes.
No preparatory drawings, no maquette, no photographs, just the rock. Chisels and a mallet, a cup of coffee and then I jump. There is silence, or jazz. Two hours later I realize I am flesh and blood and my forearms ache.
For a few years, Heidi and I drew from the life model. It has been inspiring and connects us to every artist who has been stumped and moved and taught by the human figure – spirit bless all the models who sit patiently for us. This very traditional act of dwelling on the line and space of a body’s form has informed and invigorated my carving and I go back to the curves in my mind. So much to learn…
Inspiration and Acknowledgements
My family. Cutie. Van Morrison. Fulford Harbour. Betsy Tumasonis. Professor GrossKurth. I-SEA. Picasso. Sam Gamgee. David Rimmer. Rhonda. The Hack. Whales. Moonrise. Seth’s Knives. Single Malt. Stephanie, Tom, Morley, Sweet Thing. Hula. Volunteers. Dorothy Cutting. Jennifer. Malcolm Lowry. Man Ray. Tolstoy. Turgenev. Dr. Leavitt. Micah. Judy Harper. Machine. Expresso. Airstreams. Bob Marley. Airborne Coho. Otters. Elba. Loreto. Old Cars. Vinyl Records. Bernie and Honor. Jimi Hendrix. Hockey. Blue Eyes. Mural. Playdough Sculptures. Garage Sales. Palapas. Mark Clarke. One Bubble. Peter/Barney. Kayaking.