New lines to learn as sculptors seek the spotlight
by Sarah Mather

Soaring, flame-like, bronze waves and swinging, speckled, blue bubbles are just a few of the sculptures bringing the Enriched Bread Artist’s studio to life.

The National Capital Network of Sculptors are holding their 20th anniversary sculpture exhibit this month at the EBA’s studio.

The exhibit, featuring work from 25 Ottawa sculptors, began on Nov. 18 and will run until Nov. 28. The Network of Sculptors is a group of dedicated sculptors who meet regularly to discuss their art and exchange ideas.

They organize and produce many exhibits, including this month’s, to show and sell their work.

The anniversary exhibit is designed to promote the art of sculpting. Shaukat Chaney, president of the Network of Sculptors, says the network wants to increase awareness of three-dimensional art.
“There is a lot more funding and attention for arts like drama
and music, so we really have to promote ourselves,” says Chaney. To celebrate the anniversary, the organizers decided to make some changes to this year’s show.
Unlike previous years, this exhibit has a theme: “The Poetry of Sculpture.”

“It’s our 20th anniversary, we wanted to make this a very special show, so we decided to have a theme for the show,” says Chaney.
The artists have coupled their sculptures with poems, bringing two art forms together and enhancing the meaning of their work.

“Poetry and . . . sculpting are two very important art foundations. (This exhibit) brings the two disciplines together,” says sculptor Graham Smith.

Bill Alexander, Centretown News
Sculptors say promotion is the key for their work to find an audience in Ottawa.

Some have written the poems themselves, while others have selected poems that mesh well with their pieces. The studio is filled with deliberately scattered white podiums supporting the wide variety of sculptures. Sculptures range from glossy abstract birds carved from stone to mountainous terrain-like sculptures made from shimmering gold nails.

This year, the artists were asked to submit their work to a three-person jury that selected the finest pieces. The jury consisted of a sculpting teacher from the Ottawa School of Art, a CBC art critic and an assistant curator from the National Art Gallery.

“It’s good for us, it challenges us to improve our work and keeps us on our toes,” says Chaney. At least six sculptors are always present at the exhibit, allowing the public to learn more about the piece and the stories behind them.

“Part of the fun (for the public) is finding out that story and better understanding the art,” says sculptor Svetlana Swinimer. Swinimer points out that without speaking to the sculptor, people wouldn’t understand that “Bjorn – The Snowboard Man,” a sculpture of a detailed bronze snow boarder balancing himself on a glistening white rock, was inspired by the artist’s snow boarding grandson and her son who skied to the North Pole.

Chaney says sculpting is an extremely personal and spiritual experience. He says while everyone develops their creative visions in different ways, he finds his from the stones he sculpts. He says he doesn’t design the sculpture first. Rather, he develops his ideas while working with the stone.

“I look for a relationship with the stone. I look for a dialogue between me and the stone. I see something coming to life out of the stone,” says Chaney. What began as a rough lump of chlorite stone has become a graceful grey stone fish that glides above sea green waves made of bronze. Chaney says he saw the fish in the stone and just went with the vision. He says everyone has been working long and hard to produce this show, but that it’s worth it.

“You do it because you have passion for the field,” Chaney says.