I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario. For as long as I can remember, I have made sculpture. My sculpture process has developed over my whole life and has been devoted to stone sculpture for the last thirty plus years.
Originally, I made sculpture from various clays that my mother made or bought. I learned the fundamentals of stone sculpture from my brother Sandy Cline, a renowned soapstone sculptor. As a young kid, I sanded his sculptures and made a few small soapstone pieces.
My interest in sculpture led to making stop-motion animation films with hand-sculpted figures moving about the scene. This in turn, led to film school; unfortunately, my graduation coincided with the recession of the 80s, so I returned home to figure out my next move. At the same time, my brother and his wife were living at my parents’ home before moving to a new home up north of Peterborough, Ontario.
During this time, I began to carve soapstone with Sandy. We would just talk about everything, and sculptures would be carved as we talked. Heating up frozen soapstone to be carvable. Chiseling chips of stone at each other with accuracy.
I look back fondly on these days! After I had made about twelve sculptures, Sandy asked if I wanted to go to the Ottawa Christmas show with him; that was 1985, I was 22. At the show, I sold six small pieces and made about $1,000. Pretty good start for an unemployed film graduate in the 1980s. It dawned on me that I could make money at sculpture.
Next, Sandy was planning a three-week trip to Florida to do art shows. Let’s see: Stay in Niagara Falls in the winter with no money and no job prospects or go to warm Florida, carving in the sun and selling art! Each weekend we did a different art show in a new location around Florida and spent our money on new tools and stone at Montoya’s sculpture supply store in West Palm Beach. This was a transitional point in my understanding of art as a career and I worked very hard to achieve my goals.
During this time, my style and technique developed in the shadow of my brother’s work. At that time, I learned his techniques and processes and as time went on, I developed my own techniques and ideas that led me to other ways to carve stone.
Sandy’s work was and still is, carved primarily from soapstone, quarried in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I have carved hundreds of sculptures from this stone, but I was always attracted to various other kinds of stone for their unique qualities: the translucency of alabaster, the opaqueness of limestone, the inner depth and luminosity of marble and so on. Additionally, I began to explore power tools, air chisels and grinders to work faster and on harder and bigger pieces. As time went on, I started to do my own shows and started to show in various galleries around Ontario.
In 1990, after my marriage to Ingrid Snyder Blok and the birth of our son Matthew, we moved to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. In an effort to expand my knowledge and skill level in the early 90’s, I attended stone sculpture symposiums at Camp Brotherhood in 1993 & 1994 and learned more about current carving techniques and about new stone types and continued to develop my art making practice.
I personally collected marble from all over Vancouver Island and still enjoy stone hunting trips to this day. There is something truly magical about going out into nature, finding a beautiful piece of marble, bringing it home and carving something meaningful from it. That never gets old.
When I wondered why we did not have a symposium in BC, I inadvertently talked myself into starting one on Vancouver Island with the assistance of NWSSA. The Vancouver Island Stone Sculpture Symposium started in 1996 and lasted for over twenty years with many dedicated efforts of the various sculptor luminaries of NWSSA. As I have always felt it is important to give back, and I have over the years, continually taught carving stone classes from kindergarten to adults.
In 1999, I was awarded my first public sculpture, an 11-foot-tall marble sculpture entitled “Spirit of the Earth” depicting a native maiden, her robe, carved in relief with a killer whale, bald eagle and salmon. Then, after twenty years at the corner of Chemainus Road and Victoria Street, the sculpture was moved to a more appropriate site in the Heritage Park one block north.
Since that time, I have completed five additional public sculptures which you can find on the Public Art page.
Currently, I work mainly in local marbles discovered from around the Gulf Islands, various imported marbles and alabasters and other local stone. I enjoy the process of hunting for stone in its natural environment. With my little crane truck capable of lifting and carrying 3 tons, so I can return with any stone I want. My home studio features 12-foot ceilings and all the tools required for the creation of stone sculpture on any scale.
In 2017, I was invited to be Artist in Residence at BC Marble Products, a new marble company in Chemainus, a small community on the eastern coast of southern Vancouver Island and my home. I have outdoor carving areas with air and electricity. I also have access to large wire saws and an unlimited supply of ever-changing stone. A sculptor's paradise.
In the future, I look forward to creating more private and public sculpture; organizing an international sculpture symposium using local marble and sandstone; developing my skills and understanding of stone sculpture; take a long-desired pilgrimage to Italy and finally figure out how to make a really good living through my art.
Make dust, my friends.
* Originally published as an article in Sculpture Northwest. Updated and edited article featured here is current as of 2023.
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Daniel Cline Sculpture INC. 2023