Carving away the competition

Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show features lifelike wood carvings, painters, sculptors and more.

Celebrating humankind’s eternal fascination with the natural world, the Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show brings talented artists and their renditions of elks, eagles and egrets to the heart of Sidney next weekend (April 11 to 12).

This is the 25th year for the woodcarving show, though it only moved to Victoria in 2010. It has since become one of the four major wildlife shows in Canada, says show chair Dennis Drechsler.

“We have over a dozen of B.C.’s better wildlife and nature artists, painters, photographers and sculptors,” he says.

The featured artists are not only talented, but many offer a unique perspective as well.

Take, for example, Bobbie Momsen’s feather paintings. Using a single or paired feather from wild turkeys, parrots, or ravens as a canvas, she creates compact and striking images from the avian world.

Intricate brushstrokes, following the grains of the feathers, give rise to blue jays, quails, the noble bald eagles, among others.

Or Sue Coleman’s watercolour paintings, rich in texture but still soft around the edges, with layers of meaning intertwined in her images.

Or, Stuart Duncan with Wren Silverworks, who apprenticed with master First Nations silver engraver Harold Alfred in the ‘90s, and carves realistic jewelry that celebrates the beauty and strength of nature and its beasts.

The show’s feature artist this year is Terry Isaac, a renowned painter with a near-supernatural talent of imbuing his wildlife images with life.

Isaac will be doing a free demonstration at the show on Saturday at 3 p.m., no doubt astounding viewers as he turns blobs of colour into woodland creatures.

Also bound to capture the attention of attendees are the 120-plus wood carvings in the carving competition, presented by the Vancouver Island Wood Carvers Club.

Though varying widely in size and style, the carvings all have one thing in common: each is crafted with meticulous care.

“It’s kind of like two art forms.

“First you have to be a capable carver, and then you have to be a capable painter,” says Drechsler.

One particular piece, a Harris hawk done by an artist in Nanoose Bay, is incredibly lifelike, with each feather detailed and brought alive. The piece took nearly 400 hours to complete.

“That’s the idea of wildlife carving,” says Drechsler. “It’s to duplicate the bird so if the two were standing side by side, you might not be able to tell the difference.”

Alongside the carvings is the woodturning competition.

“We get some pretty intricate wood turnings coming out,” he says.

“There’s lots of imagination in them. It’s almost as much work in some of those as in some of the carvings.”

The Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show runs Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave.

Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children 12 years and under.

For more information, visit thebrant.ca.

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