Last Love, in limestone 

Patrick Sullivan takes sculpture series to the States as one of five artists selected for the 'Chiseled" Stone Sculpture Symposium


Patrick Sullivan is like a proud papa when it comes to his imposing stone sculptures: he keeps photos of them in a plastic pullout in his wallet, alongside a snapshot of him and his wife, Sharon. And while Sullivan has been a professional sculptor for over 30 years, his artistic career didn't start out with stone.

"Well, actually, I started out as a painter in the early '70s in Vancouver and on a dare from a friend, I took my paintings up to the art school, a junior college, and to my amazement, I was accepted!"

Sullivan soon crossed paths with the school's sculpture instructor, who had studied under the well-known British sculptor, Henry Moore. Sullivan soon found himself thrown into the studio to try his hand at the unwieldy medium. The end result was his first piece: Man And Nature.

"Very few people want to carve stone because it's just too difficult. You know, it's a subtractive process that people just can't get into, but I'm the opposite," he chuckled. "The subtractive process is really what I could do, whereas the manipulation of clay and that just wasn't interesting."

He points out that stone is organic, environmentally friendly and inexpensive.

"Stone is actually one of the most overlooked contemporary art forms of the last 50 years for public art. It's making a bit of a revival," Sullivan said.

"Hopefully I'm part of a new wave!"

Sullivan has called the Sea to Sky corridor home, on and off, for almost 15 years. While many of his pieces are private commissions and gallery projects, the public pieces are an important aspect of his overall artistic portfolio.

"I see public art also as a tool to reach out to people and make them feel better about life, and make them also intellectually think a bit more," Sullivan mused. "But a lot of public art doesn't do that, unfortunately. It's usually all about the artist and not always about trying to teach somebody or reach out and make a statement."

Of course, there's also a certain sense of satisfaction that comes along with the public projects, which are on display for everyone to see.

"...When you're looking at public art, you've really got to consider the people, the public community you're in; that's my philosophy and that's the way I prefer to work, if I can."

The B.C.-born sculptor has created a number of impressive works that are on display throughout the Sea to Sky corridor, including the Last Love piece on the Valley Trail by Lake Placid Road and the four basalt sculptures in front of the Whistler Public Library, Last Love II, III, IV and V.

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