Douglas Dunbar

Douglas started his training at the University of B.C., where he received his Arts/Science degree in 1969. He thereafter explored the techniques of watercolour painting, pen and ink and charcoal drawing. He first began experimenting with soapstone carving in 1975, and later worked with wood, clay, bronze, and iron. The love of stone began when he built a large stone fireplace in his log home. In 1981 he returned to U.B.C. to study Industrial Arts teaching, taking courses in design, drafting, woodwork, metalwork, and sculpture. This was followed with a period of primarily doing ornamental ironwork, and metal sculpture. In 2002 he returned to stone carving, and continues with it today. Formerly from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, he now calls the Agassiz-Harrison Lake area home. The choice of stone is both local, and from around the world, including South America, and Africa, consisting of marble, soapstone, alabaster, pyrophylite, and serpentine. The finished pieces range in size from one pound up to 400 pounds.

His creations are primarily abstract, and heavily influenced by the Nature that surrounds him; the mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and oceans. The work is both organic and primordial in look and feel, reflecting plant and animal motifs, with influences from the earth, air, and water. He generally lets the stone with it’s natural shape and colour dictate the design which will follow. This invariably results in a true personification of consistant patterns repeated throughout Nature. Using this flow of energy, and incorporating aspects of his own personality, the results are both alive, and uniquely individualistic. As he works, the shapes come out on their own, as though they already exist, and just need to be released. He first roughs out the piece with power tools, finishing up with hand tools , sanding and polishing with a paste wax. One never knows the true colour of the work until the wax is applied, so it’s very exciting. He also does figurative pieces, usually animals, working from a good photo.

Artist: Douglas Dunbar
Pyrophylite stone

This work depicts the blossoming of the Lotus flower. It suggests a feeling of peace and serenity, with a strong connection to the Earth. Pyrophylite stone comes in many colours and this particular combination of brown and white stripes almost makes it look like petrified wood. The colours are not revealed until the final hot wax is applied, so this was indeed a pleasant surprise!

Artist: Douglas Dunbar
Brazilian Soapstone

This piece, depicting marine life, shows floral patterns on the front side, and a surfacing Killer Whale on the back. The Brazilian soapstone is a “one” on a scale of one – ten, and relatively easy to carve. We get the sense of slow waving marine plants on the front with seawater flowing through the hole, and the contrasting drama of the surfacing whale on the other side. This work was also done free-form.

Artist: Douglas Dunbar
Pyrophylite stone

This piece shows salmon migrating up the river, over a waterfall , on the route to their spawning beds. The tails of the fish wrap around to the left, and the waterfall is to the right. The pyrophylite stone with it’s speckled colour, lends itself well to this work. The stone itself is on the lower end of the hardness scale, being a “two” on a scale of one to ten. It’s finished and polished with a paste wax, and was done free-form, without a drawing or scale.