If you get the opportunity to go into Art Beat to check out the new pieces that they have on display this month, you’re going to love the exquisite intricacies of Ken Hawtin’s clay vases, even if they aren’t meant to hold water. They are so fine, so meticulously crafted with refined detail that it will blow your mind.
And then you’ll find out that they aren’t even made of clay. Each piece comes from a single hunk of wood, a section of tree that has been lathed and cut with the same tedious care as Michelangelo’s sculptures out of marble and ivory. Hawtin has lovingly revealed some of the most artistic wooden creations I have ever seen. It’s easier to believe they are somehow prefabricated than to imagine one person taking this wood to his own industrial shop and gently whittling it down and hollowing it out to about 0.25 cm. He brought some pieces down for the owners to look at and to gauge their interest and Eric Outram responded very favourably. He practically jumped at the opportunity and said Hawtin was a real find for the gallery.
“I just loved what he was doing,” he said. “He has a touch.”
Hawtin, unsurprisingly, is an experienced woodworker and carpenter who still makes a career in the construction industry. Based out of his home near Ardrossan, he explained that this line of work went a long way to influencing his new practise.
“It sure helped. That’s true. I’ve always had an interest in wood, working around it, being near it. I did a little bit of furniture and then I got into wood turning a few years ago. The last couple of years I got more into doing more artistic pieces.”
He said these artistic pieces started because a friend was into it.
“I have a friend that has had a lathe for a long time. I was interested. It was something that I’ve always wanted to try and never had. Once I tried it, I loved it and really enjoyed it. I’ve been trying to create new things, different things that other people don’t do.”
After taking the wood to the refurbished lathe (which he acquired second-hand and motorless) he then adds finishing touches by cutting out some highly detailed designs with an air-powered dentistry drill. What some people do for their art is what defines them as true artists. Granted he is still an amateur — he does this out of love — so the designs he carves are fairly rudimentary, like a maple leaf. I strongly suspect that once he has gotten his first reception from the public and the full measure of interest in his work hits him, he will have to come up with new pieces that demonstrate his own designs. It’s a credit to the stature and credibility of Art Beat that St. Albert gets to look at Hawtin at this early stage. He seems to be destined for greatness.
Alongside this budding master are the works of an established and longstanding presence in St. Albert and at Art Beat. Frances Alty-Arscott has a new Impressionistic series of acrylics, watercolours and dyes on rice paper that show what can happen when you get good at something. She is one of the community’s most dependable artists, never wavering from high quality work. These pieces are dreamy and distracting. They depict Alberta’s geography but they led my mind to faraway lands.
Impressions of a Landscape
Paintings by Frances Alty-Arscott and wood works by Ken Hawtin
Art Beat Gallery
26 St. Anne Street
Call 780-459-3679 or visit www.artbeat.ab.ca for more information