A rhythmic tap-tap-tapping signals that Tom Connor is busy at work, slowing unearthing a sculpted image from a piece of solid stone.
It’s a process that defies the true passage of time.
“You can get lost in it. Time passes pretty quickly,” says the Charlottetown sculptor, whose first solo exhibit, Sculptor’s Grasp, will be on at the Guild in Charlottetown from Oct. 2-21.
This show will include more than 20 pieces of all dimensions and stone types, such as granite, limestone, Wallace stone, marble, soapstone and some unidentified fieldstone. There’s even a piece carved from wood, but it’s stone that has grabbed the firm interest of this sculptor’s creative outgoing energy for the past 20 years.
Around that time P.E.I. artist Henry Purdy had invited a well-known New Brunswick sculptor for a weekend at a handcraft school in Charlottetown. This was the impetus for Connor’s continued passion for the art.
“Partly just for something to do and partly because there wasn’t any of it around. There was all kinds of painting but sculpture was pretty rare so I thought I’d give it a try,” he remembers.
Sourcing the raw stone product has become almost as much a pastime as the sculpting process itself.
“You get stone where you can. That’s my inventory,” Connor says of a stockpile of stones of various sizes and types stored next to his outdoor sculpting space.
“There are all kinds of shapes so I’ll either look for a way to fit a piece into a stone or else the stone gives me ideas. It works both ways.”
The origins of his stones vary from found items to cast-offs.
“I have various sources. I used to be able to go to a tombstone maker. They make mistakes and so they throw them out. Some of it I got from quarries and some of it I picked up in a field some place,” Connor says.
“And when they do a highway job there are always stones that are lying around so you stop on the side of the road and pick something up.”
Some of Connor’s pieces are of humans and animals, others are more conceptual and are often whimsical in nature.
“I like to do just about anything really; an interesting shape that I see or a shape that just occurs to me in my imagination, or something like that, a little animal,” he says of the marble puppy piece he is presently working on.
Many of Connor’s pieces have been claimed by his wife, Kirsten Connor, as permanent additions to their lovely Charlottetown garden.
Some of his timeless pieces will be for sale at the exhibition.
“Oh there’s a lot of time in them, yes,” Connor says.
“But if you enjoy it, time passes and you get lost in it and think of other things. It’s like doing a puzzle sometimes, it’s just fun.”