Have you dropped into the ‘The Backroom’ at the Hope Art Gallery lately? If not you are missing out on a unique art show. This is the first exhibition of Georges Sauvé’s whimsical Raku polar bears and his equally fantastic sculpted stone carvings. His gorilla carving seems to be asking you to scratch under its chin, while a giraffe stares at you from the corner, and two crackle-glazed polar bears frolic together across a table of blue cloth.
As a backdrop to his carvings, Jenny Wolpert’s digitally enhanced photos, wall hangings, and acrylic paintings work well to tie the display together.
George Sauvé graduated from York University in Toronto and moved to B.C. in 1977 where he completed his teaching degree at Simon Fraser University. He has lived in Hope since 1995 and began his artistic endeavors making stained-glass pieces.
While on a trip to Europe he visited the Rodin Museum in Paris and was awestruck by the beauty of the stone sculptures. Mentored by Mission B.C. artist Leslie Dyck, George completed his first sculpture, exploring the wonder of personal expression with stone. Because he is somewhat limited by the size and nature of the stones that he finds, some of which come from the Nahatlatch Valley near Boston Bar, nature dictates what he can create with certain pieces. Once he selects a type of stone, he may study it for weeks or even months to determine what lies within.
“Nature is the real artist, she guides me,” said Sauvé.
Using an angle grinder he rough cuts the stone into the shape he wants to produce. He then uses files or a dye grinder with a diamond bit to further shape the stone and to add detail. Then the time consuming process of polishing begins to reduce and remove scratches and gouges left behind by the grinder. Polishing often requires a minimum of six levels of grit before reaching the glorious finish you will see on each piece in the show.
Since stonework requires so much time to complete a single project, Sauvé began searching for a medium that would allow him to produce his pieces in a much quicker way. After meeting up Raku artist Diane Ferguson, at one of her many workshops, he also began creating his little Raku polar bears.