Rising from the Storm – Victoria News

– Words by Sean McIntyre Photos by Don Denton

clichés about weathering the storm Getting stronger is commonplace, but it’s mostly thought of as a metaphor for slipping through adversity and overcoming obstacles. There is little, if any, about actually picking up debris after a devastating rainstorm.

Four years ago, Stuminas sculptor John Marston was reaping the rewards of a lifetime dedicated to leaving his mark on thousands of years of cultural tradition. BC Ferries had just commissioned him to design the exterior artwork for a brand new ferry named Salish Eagle. He was working with high school students from Ladysmith to complete a welcome statue, carved from a 14-foot-long red section of old growth on Vancouver Island. He has reached a point in his artistic career where he has developed the confidence, skill and creativity to proudly present the contemporary edge of ancient art.

Then a storm hit.

Winds that hit much of southern Vancouver Island in December 2018 cut power to tens of thousands of homes for several days, uprooted countless old trees, and halted life on the island. John’s Ladysmith Studio is located in his spacious 1930s traditional warehouse near the town’s waterfront, and the wind literally blew the roof off.

“I got to my studio and the whole crew was outside saying, ‘Don’t go in there,’ and I had no idea what they were talking about,” John said. increase. “Then I opened the door and it was like a waterfall was pouring into the studio from the roof, so I ran in there, pushed everything to the side, and grabbed my latest project, knives, and whatever else I could find. ”

This incident was more than a minor inconvenience. His studio had dozens of projects large and small that John worked on. Huge canoes, noble totems, ceremonial cedar boxes, abstract canvas watercolors, woven works, and the raw wood, antlers, shells, bark, kelp, etc. that John collected from his frequent woodland trips. I had a pile of materials. To the hills outside town. Having all this easily accessible in one room gave him the opportunity to work on any project, depending on when, where and how inspiration struck.

“It was tough at first because we went from 4,000 square feet to 400 square feet. “I spent four years in that building, creating, working and living there, so it was a home away from home. I always think of my studio space as a place to live, learn and grow. It’s a great place and a great experience learning what it’s like to have a studio this big.”

Long since cleaning up the aftermath of the storm, John has been busy and not less inspired. He moved his former studio his space into his home in nearby Chemainus, where he lives with his partner and his three children. Although small, John has made every effort to establish his new creative sanctuary. He surrounds the room with many of the same sculpted materials he uses in his work, and whatever he doesn’t fit in his new studio is nearby and stored in a shipping container. is included.

Since moving, John has been involved in several large public works projects. Among these are the new Malahat He Skywalk attraction overlooking Saanich Cove, the Ladysmith He Secondary space for cultural learning and interaction, and a collaboration with Victoria-based Power To Be. To help people with disabilities or other disabilities in accessing nature. He also announced that Ladysmith’s new art, intended to provide a space under one roof for artists working in a variety of media, was an active part of the team tasked with redesigning the hub. I am also a member.

Back in his new home studio, John continues to combine abstraction and tradition to create works for private collectors, who have seen a marked increase in demand for his artwork in recent years.

His children are always nearby and can more easily see his work in the same way John gleaned his craft from the people around him as a child. He had a habit of watching and learning from his elders. He learned his craft from his parents Jane and David his Marston and Cowichan his tribes master his carver Simon his Charlie.

As for his own children, John says there is no pressure for them to follow in his footsteps.

John’s technique and perspective have grown within the rich pool of talent that surrounds him. As he absorbed his mentor’s ways, he witnessed indigenous carving take on a whole new shape around him. For example, Duncan’s City of Totem project brought the sculptural heritage of Vancouver Island to the forefront. Vancouver Island’s Indigenous traditions were undergoing a revival that empowered the local First Nations and deepened their understanding of the region’s past.

John was in the right place at the right time. He soon found himself in the Thunderbird Park, next to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British.He sculpted with artists from all over Columbia, where he spent four years.

John’s work has progressively taken on a more personal tone, he says. Although he was firmly grounded in the teachings and techniques of his elders, the emerging sculptor let his imagination run wild. Ultimately, he started his experiments, abandoning old methods and branching out into new areas. The result is a sculptural style that acknowledges old world legends while incorporating contemporary spiritual expressions.

“My connection to the Coast Salish culture and the natural world has always taught me to respect the life of my ancestors,” he says. “I see my artwork as a form of personal expression and a way to share my heritage.”

For more information about John Marston and his work, visit

Article courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a publication of Black Press Media

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Rising from the Storm – Victoria News

Source link Rising from the Storm – Victoria News

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