Binkley is Artist in Residence in Andalusia




michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture

I have begun my two month residency at the Kitty Harri Sculpture Garden on a shoulder of the mountain above Otivar, Spain in the Andalusia region and just inland from Almuñecar on the Costa del Sol. This magical space was founded at the turn of the millennium by Kitty Harri, a multi-talented artist and she invites artists from around the world to serve a residency. I am honoured to be the artist in residence for December and January.

My term began in an interesting fashion, but one which I am quite familiar – that of being presented with a problem and my having to figure a solution with limited resources.

The workshop area was not fitted out for heavy stone carving, but Kitty and her partner, Nick Tasker want to expand their residency repertoire and so have constructed a carving studio for the purpose. Among Kitty’s talents is stone carving, though the dust issue has been a problem in the past. When we agreed that I would come to work for two months, Nick consulted with me on design in order that he construct a three sided, steel roofed studio with lights that would contain carving dust for me and for Kitty in the future. They dubbed it the “Binkley Bay” (above).

After two weeks of heavy work on my part, we have pronounced the design a success. Dust is contained as planned by Nick.

In preparation for my arrival, Kitty and Nick traveled to Macael, Spain to visit the marble quarries and chose two blocks of stone – one yellow, the other white. Each were a handsome 3 tons and were delivered to their workshop. After Kitty, Nick and I consulted in the Garden over a location for my first sculpture, we decided my first piece would be a standing female torso, executed in the yellow Macael marble.

As my proposal would only require half of the yellow block, it was necessary to split it down the middle. I had not anticipated this task, so have not brought my shims and wedges with me from Canada, and the Garden does not have a large saw – so what to do?

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture

Thankfully, Nick welds and has a stock of cold roll steel. He has the equivalent of 5/8” round stock, angle grinders with aluminum oxide blades and a carbide tipped hammer drill. So he and I set about making our own shims and wedges. I drew a sketch of what the tools looked like, Nick cut the round steel and I refined the pieces with my grinder. We decided on 12 sets, 8 of which we set in drill holes on the upper side of the yellow block. I wanted to place the other four on the opposing side of the intended split, but that necessitated us righting the block to do so. So with no overhead lifting capacity and no forklift to help, we used Nick’s bottle jack and slowly righted the stone from below.

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture

Once righted, we completed the last drill holes and worked methodically to see if our homemade splitting tools would work. Finally, after two days of work, the marble block split. Due to the irregular grain of the yellow marble, the break was not straight, but enough to realize the piece for my torso.

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture

So my first week in residency was one of invention and problem solving, but with a successful result. I then set about within my comfort zone to carve marble and above is a daily progression of the first four days of work.

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture

25 Responses to “Binkley is Artist in Residence in Andalusia”

  1. Wendy Fraser

    This is fascinating to me. So glad to see you are getting your creativity back Michael. You are an amazing artist. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Michelle.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, John. I’m glad you find it interesting. I’m sure you get the same question – how do you come up with your ideas? I imagine music is the same – I call it a quantum leap from nothing to a sculpture/painting. There is not a methodical process – until the idea is sparked. Then it is a physical, methodical process (carving, laying down notes/lyrics) to bring the art to fruition. The best to you and Darren.

      Reply
  2. David and Joy Garrick

    Thank you so much Michael for sharing this wonderful experience with us!!! So happy for you both, please keep us in the loop. Your Proud Cousin, David Merry Christmas to you and Michelle.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Merry Christmas, Dave & Joy, and thanks for writing and your kind words. You can see more on my blog pages here and use the social media buttons on each of my website pages to see more pics and vids on my Instagram, FB and YouTube sites. Cheers!

      Reply
  3. kellen silverthorn

    Even just the weather and scenery would fall under “living the dream”. Artistic expression is the icing on the cake. KELLEN

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Kellen. We hope you are well. Any new car sculptures in the works?

      Reply
  4. Kent and Karen

    A stunning location – inspiration for creativity and gratitude! Merry Christmas and may 2019 bring many further adventures to you and Michelle.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Kent & Karen, Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we’re looking forward to more in 2019…

      Reply
  5. Doreen adn Tony Tadey

    Interesting reading how you solved your problem.

    So what is Michelle up to?

    Merry Christmas to you and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks for checking in, Doreen and Tony. Michelle has been playing tour-guide-Barbie to her cousin and after New Years, our two nieces. In between, she’s making some friends among the expats here ( Canadian, Brits mostly ) and exploring the close environs with the dogs.

      Reply
  6. Doreen and Tony Tadey

    Fascinating to see how you solved your problems.

    What is Michelle up to”

    Marry Christmas to the two of you and a Happy and Healthy New Year

    Reply
  7. David Raymond

    Hi Michael! Looks like you’re having the time of your life! Very cool to see you fabricate your own wedges, I’m very impressed. Looking forward to seeing the completed sculpture! Dave

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks for looking in, Dave. I feel lucky Nick had roll steel the right diameter! I hope to have this first marble sculpture finished soon.

      Reply
  8. Larry Sinitsin

    Hey there Michael! It is so inspirational to follow a couple on their dream. What a great timeout. You get me excited about sculpting again. Best wishes for a great holiday season to you and Michelle

    Reply
  9. Trudie and Brian

    A very Merry Christmas to both of you. It’s wonderful that you’re living your dream and obviously enjoying every minute of it. Many thanks for the interesting, informative updates. Wishing you all the best for 2019; looking forward to seeing you sometime in you new studio.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Brian and Trudie. Yes, we’re looking forward to new adventures involving the new space in Squamish. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  10. Sharon Pollock-Munson

    Merry Christmas to you and Michelle. Simply fascinating to see how you managed to successfully split the marble block with home made splitting tools. It will be a marvelous torso to view in the Garden upon completion. It’s been inspiring to follow you through your sculpting experiences in Italy and now in Andalusia. All the best in 2019.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks for writing, Sharon. Glad you are enjoying following along with us.

      Reply
  11. Ngoc Bich Phung

    Hi Michael & Michelle.
    Thank you so much for your email. Since Kee’ s passed away, i have not heard of WCSA (neither Georges Pratt) until now.
    Your artworks are so wonderful. Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you and Michelle ( and her parents too ).

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Dear Ngoc, I don’t know if the WCSA still exists. George and I tried our best to bring it back from the brink of death in 2001-05, but it slowly passed into insolvency again 10 years later. George is living on the Sunshine Coast now – GraniteCarver.com. Hope you are doing well and thank you for writing!

      Reply

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