“My work is not for thinking about a specific environment, it’s about being witness to the emotive impact of nature’s balanced composition”.
Sculptor Martha Sturdy takes inspiration from nature in her native British Columbia, a region known for the stunning beauty of its mountains, forests, and coastline. For years she has been observing the land on her farm north of Vancouver, noticing everything from the texture of ice to the shapes of individual trees to the line of the hills, often exploring by horseback. A free-range, organic, yet meticulous sensibility infuses her sculptures: bold, clean, elemental forms executed in a revolving selection of brass, wood, steel, and resin. As in nature, simplicity and complexity are in constant tension and balance, with basic forms offset by intricate, earthy textures.
Each of Study’s sculptures radiates a unique character, a larger-than-life personality born of the artist’s sharp insights into life and nature and her willingness to let her materials speak for themselves. Ribbons of brass cascade and loop, knot and crumple, echoing life’s unexpected situations. Blackened towers made of cedar logs that she splits, chars, and finishes by hand showcase the grain and knots in the wood—the tree’s secret history. Spheres, triangles, and cubes made of brightly colored resin stack into tall, whimsical totems designed to ignite optimism in her viewers: “I am determined to influence people to look at color and how beautiful it is.”
Sturdy’s work calls to mind sculptors as varied as Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Peter Shire, and Isamu Noguchi, the latter two of whom also combined practices of design and art. Still renowned for her wearables and furniture that she began producing after studying sculpture at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in the 1970s, Sturdy’s large-scale artworks represent a return to her roots. Her many accolades include and honorary doctorate from EMily Carr University of Art + Design, a Golden Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada, a permanent installation in the Vancouver Olympic Village, a permanent installation in downtown Tokyo, and induction into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.