Rails End Gallery exhibit for the birds
By Chad Ingram
There’s an avian theme to the exhibit now showing at Haliburton’s Rails End Gallery – BIRD.
The show features the sculptures of master carver Greg Gillespie, along with the Photoshop abstracts of artist June Krisko.
Gillespie has been carving birds for more than 35 years, getting his start from a neighbour in the early 1980s, a neighbour who just so happened to be a renowned bird carver named Weldon Tracey.
“Back in those days you could make a living being a bird carver,” Gillespie said. “He really, pardon the pun, took me under his wing.”
Starting out carving decoys, over the years, Gillespie’s work has involved into intricate and finely detailed interpretive works.
“You have to make the habitat the bird sits on,” Gillespie explained.
His work The Fisher, for example, in exquisite details, shows a fisher perched above a pool of water, watching a swirling school of fish. In Shadow Hunter, a bird of prey descends on a scampering mouse.
If one looks closely, the mouse’s tracks are visible, and the escape route leading to its burrow is a separate piece that can be moved, allowing the viewer to make the situation less dire, or more dire, for the rodent. In 2016, Gillespie won a third place prize at the world carving championships in Maryland.
Gillespie is retired from the MNR and a nature enthusiast and the creatures in his works come from his mind’s eye, and while some carvers create pieces by carving out a single piece of wood, Gillespie’s sculptures fuse different pieces of wood, which he said can pose some engineering challenge, but also give the works a rich texture.
Krisko moved to the Haliburton Highlands about a year ago from Jordan Station, Ont.
“I’ve always done oil painting,” she said, explaining, however, that after years of working with paints, she began to develop an allergic reaction. “Then I discovered Photoshop, and I thought, hey, that’s really cool.”
Krisko uses an application called Autodesk Sketchbook to create her abstract works.
“I’m more of a concept, spiritual personality,” she said, explaining she also does photography and that since moving to a 29-acre property in the county, many of her photography subjects are birds.
They, along with the major life transition of the move, were the inspiration behind the large, colourful work, Birdsong.
“It was time for us to leave the nest,” she says of the move to Haliburton.
The application also allows for the creation of time-lapse videos of the works being created, one of which plays on the wall of the gallery as part of the exhibit.