Haliburton wood carver wins at world championships
By Angelica Ingram
Published May 3, 2016
Greg Gillespie is now a master carver.
A wood carver for more than 30 years, Greg recently competed in the Ward World Championships held in Maryland at the end of April.
Although he has competed in dozens of Canadian and world championships before, this year it was different, as Greg won third place in the world for his interpretive abstract carving titled Startled.
The top three finish in the world is the highest placing Greg has ever accomplished, now earning him the distinction of being a master carver.
“I cannot enter in the advanced category anymore, I have to enter in masters,” he explains.
Carved out of black walnut, the piece features a duck and a muskrat, one above and one below a layer of water.
“There’s lots of interpretation,” he said, referring to his piece. “It was sort of a coming together of two animals.”
Greg said the judges really liked the story the sculpture told.
The inspiration for the piece was already in his mind on the drive home from last year’s world championships, he said.
“I think what started it was I had a plan for this water, to make a really creative representation of water,” said Greg.
He said anyone can enter at the world level, no matter what class of carver they are, however it is extremely competitive.
Prior to this competition, Greg was considered an advanced carver, with the recent competition marking only the second time he has entered an interpretive sculpture.
He competed against 13 entries, which came from far and wide, including Russia, Vancouver Island and San Diego.
Greg attended the competition with his wife Gail, who said when her husband’s name was called he shot out of his seat.
“Gail said I sort of jumped,” said Greg.
“We all did,” she said.
Greg was very proud of his sculpture and hoped it might earn him a top prize.
“I thought it had a good chance,” he said. “I really liked it. I liked the movement in it, I liked the flow, the story it told.”
Although Greg has won first and second place ribbons before, this finish holds a special place in his heart as it marks his biggest carving accomplishment.
He points to other carvers such as Weldon Tracey, who lives in Cardiff, as a mentor to him.
Aside from the third place finish, Greg also took home a first and second place ribbon for his Baltimore Oriole sculpture. He earned first in the category and second in its division.
A retired fish and wildlife specialist for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the recent victory has inspired Greg to continue pursuing his passion for carving.
“I’ve got the next two years planned already,” he said, referring to what he’s going to carve.
Greg plans on selling Startled and has his pieces on display at the Ethel Curry Gallery and Rails End Gallery.
“There’s a great opportunity coming up at the Haliburton School of Art and Design,” he said. “This summer there’s a show for Haliburton Arts Council members. It’s a juried show that runs during the summer. The pieces will be for sale there.”
Although the category of interpretive sculpture is very competitive, Greg just loves it, especially the attention to detail.
“That was one of my goals, was to become a master carver,” he said. “Now that it’s finally happened it’s almost surreal. My next goal is to do well on the masters table next year, and on the world table. Ultimately I guess I want to be world champion.”
To see more of Greg’s work, visit www.facebook.com/NorthwindPaddle.