What might you do if someone handed you a 40,000 year-old woolly mammoth tooth? Well, if you were a master carver and your name was Shane Wilson, you’d undoubtedly accept it and then spend the next few months transforming it into a masterpiece.
On October 7th PROBUS members had the good fortune to listen to Shane talk a bit about his past (growing up in Ontario, having been an Anglican minister for a while and also having been an artist in the more traditional mediums). But it was a move to the Yukon with its rugged beauty and bountiful natural resources that inspired him to take up the art of carving in bone. Also, there was the satisfaction of knowing that he was working, for the most part, with a renewable resource. (Did you know that moose shed their antlers once a year and that the antlers only real function is to attract the lady moose?)
Wilson brought with him samples of his principle mediums (moose and caribou antlers, mountain sheep horn, a sperm whale tooth, the mammoth tusk, even a piece of whale baleen) passing them round the audience for us to touch and examine. (Well all except a 100-lb antler!). He also passed around some of the tools he uses in his work, items like power tools, even dentist drills. We were shown videos (Check them out on youtube.) of him working on a number of his projects such as “Crystal Ice”, an exquisite pair of carved moose antlers that now reside in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
Shane will often spend a year or more working on one piece. He has a completed vision of the theme, the design and the finished look before he even starts to a project. The intensity, both mental and physical, required in his work means that he is limited to between three and six hours a day of carving.
Apart from being a major artist, however, Shane Wilson is a humble man with with a good sense of humour, a man who loves this planet and loves his work environment, which he described as “a precious oasis in the midst of life”. His closing words to us were “Artists do stuff because it’s cool and then explain it afterwards”.
In 2012 Shane Wilson was commissioned by the internationally renowned design firm Yabu Pushelberg to create a signature showpiece for the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. His stunning ‘Candle Ice Two’ double-antler sculpture graces the west lobby. Many other organizations and individuals have commissioned Shane’s work, each generating a wonderfully unique work of art.