Meet Erin Perry
‘Before Knowing’ is a sculpture about the design and fear of being known by another. Two tentative and curious creatures, vastly different, discover a friend.
These objects serve as a reminder of what was, what is and what could be. ‘Before Knowing’ explores emotions and feelings (which come and go). While being made of robust materials, they speak of impermanence.
The Call: In 2021, I moved from Bowen Island, BC back to Elora. The Rhino and Goose Girl begged my attention once again. My interest in recreating a monumental version of ‘Before Knowing’ coincided with a call for public sculptures at the Elora Centre for the Arts. My concept lined up beautifully with the Paths that Connect Us project. Specifically, the crucial moment of vulnerability. The Rhino and Goose Girl are poised to take brave steps that lead to connection. The Paths that Connect Us is a multifaceted exploration of belonging. I was thrilled when my proposal was selected.
I am honoured to receive an “Explore and Create” Canada Council Grant for my Paths that Connect Us project “Before Knowing”, now on permanent display at the Elora Centre for the Arts.
The Drawing: In 2003, I made a sketch of an uncertain Rhino faced by a shy girl with a gooseneck. My unconscious mind was speaking. I was in a new relationship and feeling vulnerable. Love felt seismic and scary.
The Model: Years later, the sketch became a sculpture. I spent hours working with clay paying particular attention to the backbone of the rhino by delineating each vertebra. This sculpture has been living at my mother’s home in Elora for years.
Armature: In my cozy, well-lit studio at the Elora Centre for the Arts, I formed the armature for the Rhino and Goose Girl entirely from polystyrene foam. The structure took shape by using a utility knife, hot blade and construction adhesive.
Working in Wax: It was my first time working in wax at this scale. I quickly fell in love with this unique medium. Using my knowledge of slab building in clay, I made wax sheets to build the legs and head before moving onto the rhino’s portly stature. Through the combination of scraping, burnishing with wood and metal hand tools and strategic heat gun use, the creature took shape.
Shown above and below: artist Erin Perry creates the wax model of the rhino and goose in her Elora studio
Shown above: the sculpted wax models are ready for the next step – the Foundry
Rhino’s Journey from Wax to Bronze:
Once the wax sculpture of Rhino was complete, Erin delivered him to Jim Wilson at Castaway Foundry to be case in bronze. Then, once complete the sculpture received its final glorious touch – patina.
Goose Girl’s Journey from Wax to Bronze:
The first stage of bringing Goose Girl to life, (after the sketch and model) was perfecting the wax sculpture version of her. Shown here are the stages of Goose Girl’s creation – starting with the wax model, then the bronzed version before patina, and finally the final ceramic model with patina finish.
Castaway Foundry is located in the hills of Erin, Ontario. Jim Wilson’s craftsmanship is incredible – there’s truly nobody else like him. I’m thrilled with the end result, and love that patina finish!
Thank you Lianne Carter, Grayce Perry and Jim Wilson for the enthusiastic support, generosity, expert knowledge and technical skills that were instrumental in making ‘Before Knowing’.
I considered a poured concrete base for the installation, but then decided to go with a limestone base. Limestone is so “Elora” so I think it was a great choice. Ben and Neil from Cousins & Johnson Inc. helped source a massive local bolder for the base and deliver it to the Centre.
Holes were drilled into the limestone, and the rebar footings were secured into place.
Thank you to Ben and Neil at Cousins & Johnson for your expertise and patience!
The installed sculptures look like they are right at home in their new environment! The patina finish gives the impression that they have lived here forever!