Welcome to Brian McArthur
Romantic Woodland Caribou is a remarkable caprice. It results from the collaboration of ceramic artists Brian McArthur and Dawn Detarando, plus the assistance of Marilyn and Lorne McArthur, Brian's mother and father. In that sense, it is a family project.
As life partners, McArthur and Detarando have the capacity of sharing interests and complimentary skills in clay. They also share a passion for wildlife and the environment.
Initially, McArthur and Detarando were inspired by a retrospective of the work by the grandfather of Canadian wildlife art, Carl Rungius, held at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. They were impressed by the scenic magnificence and accurate naturalism of this historic Alberta Conservationist. The Rungius show prompted the couple to re-examine their affection the subject matter of the Canadian west.
As a woman from the American eastern seaboard, Detarando kept noticing the many ways that rural history, regional folklore, the trappings of farm life, and fur trade heritage were all wrapped into the romantic notion of the Canadian west. With McArthur, she has also learned to season her admiration and respect for pioneer life with a healthy dollop of humor.
McArthur's personal heritage has been a unique support to this project. His great grandfather, his grandmother, and his father have all been experts in the art of taxidermy - preparing, preserving, and stuffing the skins of animals and mounting them in life-like form. His father's workshop, itself stuffed with multiple specimen of a wide variety of animal species accumulated over decades, has infused all of McArthur's early memories.
Romantic Woodland Caribou
In collaboration, McArthur and Detarando created an interior that included a tiled fireplace depicting the voyageurs of the beaver fur trade, and other ceramic and mosaic appurtenances. This life-sized caribou was part of the ensemble created for that installation in the Truck Gallery in Calgary. It combines aspects of popular cabin crafts and 20th century tourist art with the narrative traditions of the 19th century animaliers.
The Romantic Woodland Caribou took about 600 hours to create and complete. The tiny tiles, the individual tessera, are either hand made or commercial wall tiles, nipped to size, then patiently placed on the form with tweezers. The artists estimate that approximately 75 square feet of surface is each covered with over 1000 pieces.
Brian McArthur has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the University of Regina, while Dawn Detarando received her Bachelor of Fine Art in Ceramics from Massachusetts College of Arts in Boston. Both hold Master of Fine Arts degrees from the Ohio State University. Both have teaching experience, most recently at Red Deer College and School of Art at the University of Manitoba. As co-owners of Voyager Art and Tile in Red Deer, Alberta, they produce functional vessels, mosaic, tiles, and installation art. They also accept commissions.