Fusing Art to Nature

After operating his own art gallery in the Vancouver, BC, area, sculptor Jack Gibson and his wife moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2009 and set up his studio and showpiece home in Garden Bay. The movement of the human body in dance fascinated the sculptor for years and led to the creation of Yonel, a life-size bronze figure of a dancer arched in a warm-up stretch. It became a focal point for his garden and is joined in his hilly front yard by another dancing figure in bronze, the Dream Duster.

Since then Jack has created multiple fascinating figurines to enhance gardens and fuse art to nature.

Sunshine Coast sculptor Jack Gibson’s wild and refined craft leaps boundaries

Coast Reporter


As sculptor Jack Gibson prepares for this weekend’s Art Crawl — during which 169 Sunshine Coast galleries and studios will open to the public — the creative fire of the Garden Bay-area artist is stoked by a simple vision of cross-cultural collaboration.

“What does reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists look like? Just doing good work and building relationships,” Gibsons said. “Working together in harmony and appreciating each other’s work.”

Gibsons is a self-taught artist who specializes in finely-wrought human and animal sculptures. He carves figures in wax before they are cast in bronze, after which he applies a russet patina. His life-sized sculpture Yonel, of a seated male dancer whose rigid musculature and rapturous physiognomy belie its metallic surface, is positioned steps from Gibson’s home-based studio and gallery.

Other figures punctuate the hillside grounds. Gibson himself landscaped the property and designed his house, whose shape evokes an eagle with outstretched wings. Gibson and his wife moved to Garden Bay in 2009.

Yonel was modeled on a former Cuban navy SEAL turned contemporary dancer. During a trip to Cuba in the late 1990s, Gibson was inspired by the challenge of translating dancers’ lithe movements into three-dimensional moments frozen in time. It was an unexpected direction for an artist who had previously crossed the Arctic circle to capture moving images that became casts of goats (Big Billy), moose (Dom), eagles (Regal) and other untamed creatures. The Cuban trip was meant as respite from the stress of operating two Vancouver art galleries and representing more than 40 visual artists. (Gibson still promotes artists and will feature Yukon landscape painter Emma Barr as a guest artist during the Art Crawl.)

Cuba opened a whole new chapter in Gibson’s creative career. In addition to launching his intricate depiction of dancers, he cultivated expertise in creating cold-cast bas relief panels. In Kings’ Prey, a series of 220 polymer resin tiles, bodies of Chinook and Coho salmon connect across edges, forming an Escher-like undersea cavalcade.

Gibson has been sought out by Indigenous carvers like renowned Musqueam artist Susan Point to create molds and casts of their designs for limited release in metal or marble. The late Haida artist Ben Davidson engaged Gibson to render his shield-shaped artwork Raven Clam People in composite metal. Gibson also undertook a detailed study of Kwakiutl and Kwakwakawakw Nation dancers which resulted in his series of sculptures depicting ceremonial regalia and poses.

“I used to carve in stone,” Gibson said, “but the thing about stone is that it’s forgiving. Nobody expects it to be anatomically correct. The minute you move into clay or wax, you become dedicated to detail. I keep trying to go abstract, but [precision and realism] keep coming back, haunting me all the time. So I guess I’m stuck with it now at my age.”

The lissom fingers and taut sinews in his bronze Bukwas, which depicts the Kwagiulth Nation’s mythological Wild Man of the Woods, echo the meticulousness of Gibson’s graceful nudes like Serene, in which a female rests in a fetal position. “Sometimes you don’t even need lips or eyes on a piece,” Gibsons said. “You get everything you need to feel from the body.”

Gibson maintains a website at jackgibsongallery.com. His studio and gallery will be open during the Art Crawl as Venue #158.

King’s Prey

The total edition amounts to 220 pieces to form different compositions in groups of 6, 9, 12, 16, 20 or more, either vertically or horizontally. All compositions are mounted on a solid backing with attached rails for easier hanging (1.75 inches thickness). They can be mounted on an interior wall or an exterior patio with the possible addition of a water feature. > view details

Here, Jack comments on a distinctive artwork:

“I have studied Chinook and Coho salmon for many years. I have carved them, painted them, formed them in many mediums – and now have created this composition in a grid form using cold metal for the most accurate detail. The salmon images are hand-carved in wax, cast in silicone rubber, produced in polymer resin-metal combination, polished, patina-fused and coated for protection.”

Dream Duster

As I watched a contemporary dance group one performer in particular caught my eye. Her movements were bold and her features were unique. She did a solo performance within the group and the ending pose of the performance remained etched in my thoughts for over a decade. I considered how those features could be interpreted into a bronze. As her image continually resurfaced in my mind the magic of her pose began to reconstruct into the form in which I would sculpt her. However, it was always her face that I saw clearly along with the patinas that I would use on this imaginative piece. Fortunately, I was able to find a model not too far away from my new home on the Sunshine Coast. The model was able to help me start creating my vision. Inspired by one pose in particular, Dream Duster began to form. Now, my vision moved from her face to her unique pose. With the model’s help I could work with the pose in a concrete form. As I started to sculpt this piece that I had been envisioning for over a decade, like everything else I start, it evolved into something more special to me. 

Perhaps some of my own spirit meshed into this piece. As I admire this piece I always find new personality in it. You can spend many hours gazing at her as she casts her magic on her audience. In her dance Dream Duster is a character between worlds and as she blows her magic dust at you she can make you into an angel or a monster. Let her cast her spell on you!