Fourteen days from rough stone to masterpiece. That's how organizers have been promoting the upcoming Atlantic Stone Carving Symposium being held from Sunday, Aug. 28, to Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, in the Village of Inverness.
During those 14 days, eight of Canada's finest stone carvers will be working on blocks of Cape Breton marble, quarried at MacLeod Resources' River Denys quarry. The carvers will be working outside, under tents, with marble blocks that weigh from 300 pounds to more than 2,000 pounds.
"Nova Scotia has the two essential elements that make its artistic contributions world class," said Minister of Natural Resources Richard Hurlburt. "High-quality marble that can compete with any from around the world, and a vibrant arts community that can turn the stone into such enriching works of art."
Contemporary stone carving symposia originated in 1959 in Austria. Since then, they have become important cultural events in Europe and Asia.
"The Inverness County Centre for the Arts deserves high praise for organizing and hosting this symposium," said Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism Culture and Heritage, who will officially open the symposium on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 5 p.m. during a community barbecue. "It is a tremendous opportunity for Nova Scotians and visitors to see these accomplished artists at work."
MacLeod Resources excavates a variety of intensely coloured and richly veined marbles that are being exported as far as Italy where they compete with the world's finest marbles.
"Cape Breton's rich natural resources, specifically marble, made this location a logical choice for the symposium," said Kathy Hannigan, executive director, Inverness County Centre for the Arts. "This will be the first of its kind event in Atlantic Canada and one of very few in North America."
The participating artists represent a mixed group of internationally established Canadian artists and young, emerging artists. Criteria used in the selection process included the credibility of the sculptors' work, their experience working with marble and their general attitude toward working with other artists and interacting with the public.
Artists who will be carving include Nova Scotians John Greer and Rudolph Henninger; Kathryn Ellis and Kent LaForme from British Columbia; Gerard Kelly, Newfoundland and Labrador; Laura Moore from Ontario, and Vanessa Paschakarnis, an artist and professor of sculpture in Dallas, Tex. Niall Donaghy from Waterloo, Ont., is a late addition to the lineup, filling the spot vacated by Carl Tacon of Ontario who recently cancelled due to a family emergency.
Planning for the event started nearly three years ago when Ms. Paschakarnis visited the MacLeod Quarry and encouraged Christopher Trider, its president and founder, to host a symposium in Cape Breton.
A group of dedicated people connected to the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design, the Municipality of the County of Inverness, Strait-Highlands Regional Development Agency, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of Economic Development, and Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation have been working to help root the long tradition of sculpture symposia on Canadian soil.
"The province is pleased to support this high-calibre event," said Minister of Economic Development Ernest Fage. "It takes organizations and volunteers together to showcase our artistic and natural assets in this spectacular way."
On Tuesday and Thursday evenings of the two-week symposium, each of the eight artists will provide slide shows of their work at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts. Each of the presentations begins at 7 p.m. All are open to the public.
"We've had a lot of people express an interest in working with Cape Breton marble," Ms. Hannigan said. "So the arts centre will have extra work benches and marble on site just in case anyone wants to try their hand at creating a piece."
More information on the artists and the event can be found on the website at www.invernessarts.ca/stone.htm .
Stone carvers John Greer and Vanessa Paschakarnis help unload Cape Breton red marble from MacLeod Resources' River Denys quarry for the Atlantic Stone Carving Symposium. The symposium will be held from Sunday, Aug. 28, to Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts. Photo courtesy of Inverness County Centre for the Arts